Monday, September 22, 2003

Army Specialist Paul J. Sturino

Remember Our Heroes

Army Specialist Paul J. Sturino, 21, of Rice Lake, Wis.

Spc. Sturino was assigned to B Battery, 2nd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, Fort Campbell, Ky.; died Sept. 22 from a non-combat weapons discharge in Quest, Iraq.

Brother takes different road after death of sibling in Iraq

Associated Press

RACINE, Wis. — Army Spc. Alonzo Sturino arranged his little brother’s hair in his casket at the Hanson Funeral Home, carefully placed rosary beads in his hands and made sure all other details were perfect.

They were things Sturino wished he didn’t have to do Sunday for his 21-year-old brother Spc. Paul J. Sturino, who died Sept. 22 in Quest, Iraq.

Paul Sturino had been assigned to B Battery, 2nd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment out of Fort Campbell, Ky. Family members say he died as the result of an accidental discharge from another soldier’s firearm.

Alonzo Sturino also had escorted his brother’s body to Wisconsin, first to Racine, where area relatives gathered for services, and then to the Sturino brothers’ hometown, Rice Lake.

After years of Alonzo leading and Paul following — from high school wrestling at Rice Lake High School, joining the Army, then going to Iraq — Paul’s death now sets the brothers on separate journeys.

Duane Sturino of Kenosha, the brothers’ uncle, said his nephews were having a friendly race to see who would be the first promoted to sergeant.

“Alonzo said he is even more motivated now because of Paul’s death,” Duane Sturino said.

Overcast skies and rain reflected the somber gathering at the funeral home, where the American flag flew at half-staff. Red, white and blue was the theme for the flower sprays that surrounded the casket, which was also draped in a flag.

Family members reminisced about the happy boy who often spent summers in Kenosha, where the Sturino family is widely known and well-loved. Paul’s grandparents, George and Gloria, ran a family restaurant in Kenosha for years. Paul also spent three summers on the Barracuda Swim Team in Kenosha.

“He was a fun-loving, well-liked young man,” Duane Sturino said.

The Rev. Jeffrey Thielen, who officiated at the slain soldier’s memorial service, reminded the Sturino family that Paul will always be in their hearts.

“He dedicated his life to make the world better for us, and for that we say, ‘Thank you, Paul,”’ Thielen said.

A burial with full military honors at the Northern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery was planned, Spooner said.

Family says 21-year-old Wisconsin soldier accidentally shot

ELM GROVE, Wis. — The fourth soldier from Wisconsin killed in Iraq was fatally shot in some kind of accident, his family said Sept. 23.

Christine Straate, the fiancĂ©e of the soldier’s father who lives in Elm Grove, said the family has been told some of the details surrounding the incident that killed Army Spc. Paul J. Sturino, 21, but she did not want to comment further.

“It was an accident,” she said.

Sturino, who graduated from Rice Lake High School in 2001, died Monday from what the Army called a “non-combat weapons discharge.”

He was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division and was in an area south of Mosul in northern Iraq.

Lt. Col. Kevin Curry, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, said Wednesday the incident that killed Sturino remained under investigation.

The military’s labeling of the cause of Sturino’s death means only that there was no enemy contact at the time a weapon was fired killing him, Curry said.

“It doesn’t really fill in all the blanks yet. That is why it is under investigation,” he said.

Curry said it was unknown how long the official probe into Sturino’s death would take.

Three American flags fluttered in the breeze outside the home of Sturino’s mother, Christine Wetzel, near Rice Lake. A woman who answered the telephone at the home Wednesday said the family wanted to be left alone for now.

Randy Drost, one of Sturino’s high school teachers and his wrestling coach, said he was awaiting word about exactly what happened to the soldier. “We know what they’ve said can mean multiple things,” Drost said.

Army Specialist Paul J. Sturino was killed on 09/22/03.

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