Thursday, March 16, 2006

Army Sgt. Amanda N. Pinson

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Amanda N. Pinson, 21, of St. Louis, Mo.

Sgt Pinson was assigned to the 101st Military Intelligence Detachment, 501st Special Troops Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; killed Mar. 16 when a mortar round detonated in Tikrit, Iraq. Also killed was Spc. Carlos M. Gonzalez.

St Louis Post-Dispatch -- Amanda Pinson knew soldiers were dying in Iraq when she decided to join the Army in 2003, but she wasn't going to let that stop her.

"She believed what she was doing was preventing another 9/11," her father, Tony Pinson, said Friday after learning his daughter had been killed in Iraq on Thursday. "She's a hero."

Family members said Spc. Amanda Pinson, 21, was killed in a mortar attack on the base in Tikrit, Iraq, where she worked in intelligence. They said they couldn't know exactly what her work entailed, but that it kept her on the base most of the time and, they had hoped, somewhat out of harm's way. The military had not yet released information about her death Friday night.

Amanda Pinson, of south St. Louis County, was with the 101st Airborne Division and was based at Fort Campbell, Ky. She was proud of what she was doing, family members said.

Her mother, Chris Ehlen, said she talked her daughter out of joining the military once, but in the end, it was what she wanted to do.

"She loved being in the Army and she loved doing her job," said Ehlen, of south St. Louis County. "She felt like her work saved American lives. That's what she did."

Amanda Pinson also leaves a brother, Bryan Pinson, 17.

The Post-Dispatch's Harry Levins interviewed Amanda Pinson in 2003 for a column about the challenges facing recruiters as troops battled in Iraq. Amanda, then 18, had signed up for the Army after graduating from Hancock High School.

She told Levins she was fully aware of the dangers soldiers faced in the Middle East before she joined.

"But I didn't really think about it," she said. "I thought, 'This is what I want to do - and I'm going to do it, no matter what.' I tell everybody, 'It just feels right.'"

She said she thought the Army would help her grow.

"I've never wanted to do girlie things," she said. "When I finish college, I want to be an FBI agent. I thought military service would help me excel - help me to become my own person."

Her plans had evolved into perhaps working for the CIA after returning from Iraq later this year and leaving the Army at the end of her enlistment period, family members said.

Regina Pinson, her stepmother, remembers watching coverage of Cindy Sheehan's protests against the war with her stepdaughter.

"Please don't do something like that if something happens to me," she remembers Amanda Pinson saying. "This is what I want to do."

Army Sgt. Amanda N. Pinson was killed in action on 03/16/06.

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