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In Tribute |

U.S. troops who have died in Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and Iraq.

EDITOR'S NOTE: These tributes, published in alphabetical order, were supplied by The Associated Press.

Army Sgt. Kevin Grieco

Kevin Grieco met his future wife in 2003 after returning from a deployment to Spain. They met while line dancing.

“As soon as he walked in, I said, ‘I'm going to dance with this man,'” said Rashmi Grieco. “I asked him to dance, and he said, ‘No, I don't think so.' And then he saw me dancing with his best friend, and he said, ‘OK, maybe I'll try.'”

Grieco, 35, of Bartlett, Ill., died Oct. 28 in Baghlan, Iraq, of wounds from a suicide bomb attack. He was assigned to Sycamore, Ill.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Brian Hause

Josh Johnson easily remembers the first time he bumped into Brian Hause.

“I met him the first day of 10th grade,” Johnson said. “The first morning I went to school, he walked up to me, put his arm around me, and said, ‘Hi, I'm Brian, and you're going to be my new best friend.'”

He was as good as his word.

“He was like a big tough guy, but at the same time he was a marshmallow on the inside,” Johnson said.

Hause, 29, of Stoystown, Pa., died Oct. 23 of noncombat related medical causes at Balad Air Base in northern Iraq. He was assigned to Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.

Army Spc. Geoffrey Johnson

Geoffrey Johnson was a terrain data specialist who worked in geospatial intelligence. He helped commanders understand unknown areas into which they would lead troops.

But he wasn't always behind a desk – he volunteered for special patrols, going out and helping to identify enemies.

“I think he thought he could do some good there,” said his father, Jim. “He saw some bad things happen to innocent people.”

Johnson, 28, of Lubbock, Texas, died Oct. 12 of a heart attack in Baghdad. He was assigned to Fort Hood, Texas.

Marine Cpl. Jason Karella

At the Alaska Military Youth Academy, Jason Karella earned the highest leadership rank a cadet can achieve at the school. In boot camp, he became a squad leader.

“He had a way of making people follow his lead because of how he carried himself,” said his father, Kevin Karella.

Karella, 20, of Anchorage, Alaska, died Oct. 10 in a vehicle accident in Afghanistan's Farah province. He was assigned to Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Army Capt. Robert Lindenau

Robert Lindenau studied classical guitar while he was at the University of Idaho and was involved in a rock band that played at venues in Idaho.

“After college when he told me he was going to join the Army, I told him that he did not seem to be the ‘Army type,'” said his uncle, Mike Bloom. “In ways he wasn't, and in other ways, he was perfect for the Army, bringing his refined ways and behavior to the ranks as an example.”

Lindenau, 39, of Camano Island, Wash., died Oct. 20 in Charbagh, Afghanistan, when a rocket-propelled grenade struck his vehicle. He was assigned to Fort Bragg.

Army Staff Sgt.

Anthony Mason

Anthony Mason's brother, Wesley, and his sister, Annette Cihak, remember their brother as a “good ol' boy” who loved nothing more than to rile folks for a laugh.

“He made a career out of making my life miserable,” Cihak said. “There was a lot of fun at my expense.”

Mason, 37, of Springtown, Texas, was killed Sept. 18 in a helicopter crash near Tallil, Iraq. He was assigned to Grand Prairie, Texas, and served two tours in Iraq.

Army Pfc.

Christopher McCraw

From Christopher McCraw's childhood to his adult years, those who knew him couldn't help but be touched by his jovial personality.

“Chris was just a charm; an all around happy-go-lucky kid,” said Wendy Bracey, his Sunday school teacher. “He was a prankster with a sweet smile. I remember he would always sneak up behind me then tap me on my shoulder trying to scare me.”

McCraw, 23, of Columbia, Miss., died Oct. 14 of injuries from small-arms fire in Nasar Wa Salam, Iraq. He was assigned to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

Army Sgt.

Preston Medley

Preston Medley's love of guns may have started at his grandfather's side, when, as a little boy, they would go hunting.

His grandfather remembered how the little boy had tried hard to “hunt like Peepaw,” but usually ended up falling asleep in a warm spot before the outing was over.

“He never did get better,” Jesse Medley said. “He'd fall asleep too quick. I'd find him in the dog box sometimes asleep with the dog.”

Medley, 23, of Baker, Fla., died Oct. 14 in Qazi Bandeh, Afghanistan, when his vehicle struck an IED. He was assigned to Fort Hood, Texas.

Army Sgt. 1st Class

Jamie Nicholas

The signs in Jamie Nicholas' hometown of Clay County, W.Va., said it all.

“In Our Prayers, the Nicholas Family, God Bless America,” said one at Maysel Missionary Baptist Church. “Jamie Nicholas, Our Fallen Hero,” read another at Go Mart.

Nicholas, 32, of Hope Mills, near Fayetteville, died Sept. 29 in an explosion in Yakhchal, Afghanistan. He was assigned to Fort Bragg.

Army Sgt. John Penich

After witnessing the 2001 terror attacks, John Penich told his family he wanted to serve his country. But his career took a detour managing a hotel, a banquet hall and then a nightclub before enlisting.

“He kind of ignored his calling and bounced around,” said his older brother Jeff Penich. “But he had no regrets of joining the Army. It was a calling to him in 2001, and it didn't catch up with him until later.”

Penich, 25, of Beach Park, Ill., died Oct. 16 in Karangol Village, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered from indirect fire. He was assigned to Fort Hood, Texas.

Army Pfc. Heath Pickard

Heath Pickard was smaller than many other soldiers, but had excelled in football while in high school and consistently scored high in Army physical fitness tests. Still, he wasn't afraid to joke about his stature.

“Heath was not a large man by any means,” said chaplain David Neetz. “One soldier made fun of him for being small, and he said that he was actually the largest leprechaun in the world.”

Pickard, 21, of Palestine, Texas, died Oct. 16 in Balad, Iraq, of wounds suffered from indirect fire in Baqouba. He was assigned to Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

Marine Cpl.

Adrian Robles

Adrian Robles was recalled as a man with an electric smile. Gunnery Sgt. Trent Kuhlhoff, who served with Robles, said he never knew anyone who laughed and smiled more than Robles.

“It was hard for me to get mad at him for anything,” Kuhlhoff said.

Robles, 21, of Scottsbluff, Neb., died Oct. 22 during combat in Afghanistan's Helmand province. He was assigned to Twentynine Palms, Calif.

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