101st Airborne soldier killed in Iraq
An Army soldier killed in Iraq planned to leave the military and eventually become a history teacher, policeman or game warden,
his family said Tuesday. Spc. Paul J. Sturino, 21, of Rice Lake, Wis., died Monday from a non-hostile gunshot wound, the Army said. He was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division,
based at Fort Campbell, Ky., and was in an area south of Mosul in northern Iraq, where the death
remained under investigation.
Outside the Elm Grove home of Sturino's father, Dino
Sturino, yellow ribbons hung from about 30 trees. The Navy veteran of Vietnam
was choked with emotion and his eyes filled with tears. "Any parent who has a child, and all
of a sudden they find out their child is dead, how would they feel?" Sturino said. "I feel like hell -- stabbed, ripped, whatever you want to call it."
Sturino and his fiancee, Christine Straate, last talked
with the soldier on Sept. 14 -- his 21st birthday. He had recently learned he had
to serve another year in the Army because of the hostilities in Iraq. His discharge was frozen.
"He called on his birthday and said, 'Dad, I have to go on a mission, but
I really don't want to,"' Sturino said.
Sturino joined the Army in July 2001 after graduating
from Rice Lake High School, following his older brother, Alonzo, 23, who served
in Iraq but is now stationed in Texas, Straate said. Jessica Meyers of Rice Lake, Paul Sturino's
second cousin, said his two-year enlistment had been due to end last July before it was extended.
The soldier's grandfather and great-grandfather also
were military veterans, Straate said. But Dino Sturino said he took little
consolation from the fact that his son died serving his country. "He
said he was proud to be a soldier in the 101st," he said. "I can't hug him. I can't kiss him.
The price is too high."
Sturino's grandmother, Marilyn Peer, said the family
was awaiting details of what happened. "We don't know anything," she said.
"This is a shock."