Army Sgt. Kraig D. Foyteck, 26, of Skokie, Ill.
Sgt. Foyteck was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Fort Wainwright, Alaska; died Oct. 30 from injuries sustained when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire during combat operations in Baghdad.
LaPorte family mourns son's death in Iraq
IRAQ WAR: Kraig Foyteck killed while on extended tour
BY ROBYN MONAGHAN
LAPORTE | Seconds after she watched herself as a grieving military mom sobbing on a midday television newscast, Connie Foyteck's cell phone rang.
It was the call this LaPorte mom had been waiting for -- word from the wife of a soldier who had been with her son when he was killed in Iraq early Monday morning.
Until Wednesday afternoon, Foyteck didn't know whether her oldest son, Sgt. Kraig Foyteck, had been killed by a bullet or a bomb.
She still doesn't know if she'll ever see his body.
"He was shot three times?" Foyteck said into her cell.
"The first two went into his vest, but the third one went into his neck," she repeated calmly. "He said Kraig didn't feel a thing?"
But, Jen Parsons, whose husband, Sgt. Kirt Parsons, saw Connie Foyteck's son die as he searched houses in an Iraqi town called Mahala, couldn't tell the heartbroken mother what she yearned to know the most.
Were the remains of her son so mutilated she would never be able to see his body? Two days after he died, the Army hadn't told her, either.
"That's the most devastating part is that I may not even be able to see his body," Foyteck said, breaking into tears. "I have to see him. I have to hold him one more time."
In the Iraq conflict's fourth deadliest month, Kraig Foyteck was among the one-third of American casualties already scheduled to be home. According to a recent report, 105 American soldiers were killed in Iraq during October. About 30 percent were on their second or third tours, according to a Chicago Tribune poll.
Foyteck, 26, with the 2-1 Infantry 172nd Brigade, had bought his airline ticket to come home last August. He was told the day before his flight he would have to stay up to another year. But he had heard he would be heading back to the States by Thanksgiving, his mother said.
In his last e-mail, sent Sunday evening, Kraig told his mom he was shopping for an airline ticket home at Christmastime.
"They already killed us once when they didn't let him come home when he was supposed to," Connie Foyteck said.
The worst news possible came knocking on her door in the form of an Army messenger about 8 p.m. Monday.
"I never, ever expected that man to come to my door," she said. "We were in the home stretch. It was the last thing on my mind."
Daredevil, practical joker
Kraig Foyteck enlisted in the Army in 2003, before the Iraq war erupted. He and his mother never talked about the possibility that Kraig, known as an adventure-seeking practical joker, would ever see combat. After a year of college and some time working as a computer salesman, the 1998 Niles West High School graduate enlisted.
"I think it was the daredevil in him," Connie Foyteck said.
Kraig Foyteck was an accomplished diver. He loved to ski, boat, ride snowmobiles and parachute.
"He had a way of bringing people together," said Eric Chan, a Winnetka teacher who was a close friend of Foyteck for a decade since the two worked together at the Skokie pool.
Barbara Giannelli, who works in the office at Niles West, remembers the pranks he pulled at school. He taped her phone receiver button down, then called her. He linked her paper clips together.
"He enjoyed himself," Giannelli said. "He didn't take himself too seriously."
Honoring their friend
Foyteck's fellow soldiers held a funeral ceremony for him in Iraq on Wednesday, his mother said.
Jen Parsons told Connie Foyteck a group of soldiers at Fort Wainwright Army Base near Fairbanks Ala., where her son was based, is holding a memorial for him today.
Connie Foyteck, whose parents Virginia and Henry (Jack) Foyteck are from LaPorte, recently moved back to her hometown after years in Skokie, where Kraig grew up and she still works for the village of Skokie. She has another son, Christopher Mastas, 20.
The Foytecks plan to hold a military funeral in Skokie. They'll schedule it as soon as the Army tells them when Kraig's body will be coming home, Connie Foyteck said.
Army Sgt. Kraig D. Foyteck was killed in action on 10/30/06.