Monday, May 28, 2007

Army Specialist Alexandre A. Alexeev

Remember Our Heroes

Army Specialist Alexandre A. Alexeev, 23, of Wilmington, Calif.

Spc. Alexeev was assigned to the 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died May 28 in Abu Sayda, Iraq, of wounds sustained when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. Also killed were 1st Lt. Kile G. West, Sgt. Anthony D. Ewing, Cpl. Zachary D. Baker and Cpl. James E. Summers.

Soldier believed in cause
Nation: Portrait of local soldier emerges through his e-mails.
By Josh Grossberg, Staff writer

Alexeev They never met, never spoke on the telephone, had virtually nothing in common.

But in a yearlong exchange of e-mails between a Northern California mother and a young Wilmington resident who died in Iraq last week, a portrait emerged of a shy man who enjoyed ice hockey, relished the small gifts she sent him and loved his adopted country.

"We just kind of communicated about stuff," said Rose Ramirez-Latham about 23-year-old Spc. Alexandre A. Alexeev, a native of Russia who was among five soldiers killed Monday when their vehicle was struck by a makeshift bomb in the city of Abu Sayda. "We just kept it positive."

Ramirez-Latham, a Santa Rosa resident, came into contact with Alexeev through the Soldiers Angel Network, an organization that connects people fighting overseas with concerned people back home.

"My impression was obviously he believed in the country," she said. "He was fighting for a cause."

Efforts to reach Alexeev's family in the Moreno Valley have been unsuccessful.

Alexeev was 14 when his family left Russia and moved to Hawthorne, said his longtime friend Dan Corbei. He graduated from Hawthorne High School in 2002. His family bought a house in Wilmington about two years ago.

"He was a good guy, really smart," said Corbei, a Torrance resident. "He was a really sharp kid who made the most of everything."

For fun, the two would go clubbing and listen to music.

"He loved online gaming, techno music and working with computers," Corbei said.

Corbei said his friend hoped to become a citizen, which is why he joined the military. He didn't enjoy being overseas, but liked making friends with local children.

But when he got to Iraq, he kept his thoughts mostly to himself, Ramirez-Latham said. He shied away from discussing personal matters and kept her mostly in the dark about the details of his missions.

Sometimes weeks would go by without him writing.

"When you know someone, you look for his e-mails to see if he's OK," she said. "If I didn't hear from him for two weeks, I'd start getting stressed."

In one case, when he finally got back from a mission, he apologized for the delay.

"He thanked me for my concern," she said.

He told her he spent time in Iraqi villages.

"He said he was living with the Iraqis," she said. "Iraqi kids love soccer. He had some balls and they asked him for some. He gave them to the Iraqi kids."

But as his time overseas grew longer, he seemed to grow tired of the ordeal he was living through.

"The last one said he was really tired and really stressed," she said.

Ramirez-Latham would offer to send him gifts, but Alexeev was shy about accepting them.

"I asked him what he needed. He said he felt awkward asking for things. I e-mailed him back saying, `Don't feel bad. I'm going to send you something."'

Although she knew he was proud to serve his country, Ramirez-Latham said Alexeev couldn't wait for his time overseas to come to an end.

"All I can think about is being back home and enjoying a normal life," he wrote.

Army Specialist Alexandre A. Alexeev was killed in action on 5/28/07.

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