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Families Mourn Those Killed in Mosul

December 23, 2004 GMT

The small community of Freeland, Pa., lost its holiday spirit after learning that Sgt. 1st Class Paul D. Karpowich was killed in the bombing at Mosul, Iraq.

``You expect to see people walking down the street wishing each other a merry Christmas,″ Freeland Mayor Tim Martin said Wednesday as the word of Karpowich’s death spread. ``People were asking, ‘Did you hear what happened?’ It was a very somber mood.″

Eighteen Americans were among the 22 killed in Tuesday’s attack _ 14 service members and four civilians _ making it one of the deadliest attacks on American troops since the war began. The military said it was likely carried out by a suicide bomber who infiltrated the camp’s dining tent as soldiers ate lunch.

Karpowich, 30, grew up in Freeland, but had been living in the Philadelphia suburb of Bridgeport, Pa., and worked as a salesman. The avid hunter and fisherman had spent 13 years in the military.

``He was ambushed in a mess hall surrounded with his friends,″ said his stepmother, Claire Karpowich. ``He was glad to be back at Camp Marez because he was out in the field for two weeks. This was the first time he had a hot shower and good meal.″

Vic Mason recalled his son Nicholas, 20, of King George, Va., a former volunteer firefighter serving in the Virginia National Guard who had been scheduled to return home in February.

``Anybody that knew him would have a lot of special memories,″ Mason said. ``He was proud to be a soldier, proud to serve his country.″

In Texas, family and friends of Halliburton Co. employees Leslie W. Davis, 53, and Allen Smith, 45, gathered in grief.

In Magnolia, Texas, Dona Davis recalled her high school sweetheart and husband of 35 years, who worked at the quality assurance and quality control department for Halliburton’s KBR subsidiary.

``He was not afraid. He spent a year in Vietnam on river patrol boats. He was in heavy combat then,″ she said. ``It had prepared him. He said this is where the Lord wanted him and where he should be right now.″

Davis said she last saw her husband in June, but they communicated daily by e-mail or telephone. She last spoke to her husband by phone Monday night.

``He said he was going to go out on Christmas and take pictures of all the soldiers and have Christmas fun with those without families,″ she said. ``He said he would rather die than one of those young soldiers, without a doubt. He said, ’I have a chance to leave, but they don’t.‴

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Friends of Smith gathered Wednesday night at Johnson’s Market & Grill in Pearland, Texas, to mourn the passing of ``a good man and wonderful friend.″

Terry Hartley, a friend and former customer at the Hoot N Annies’ bar that Smith owned, said he left for Iraq on Nov. 24. Smith, of Rosharon, Texas, previously owned a landscaping and lawn-care business.

In Maine, friends described Army Sgt. Lynn R. Poulin Sr., 47, of Freedom, as a down-to-earth friend who’d do just about anything to help out.

``He was a very self-reliant individual,″ said his neighbor, Jimmy Waterman. ``If something needed to be fixed, he would fix it. If it couldn’t be fixed, then he’d fabricate something to make it work.″

Word of the death of Army Spc. Thomas Dostie, 20, spread swiftly across the tiny Maine town of Somerville, where Dostie was a volunteer firefighter and son the town’s fire chief.

``We’re such a small community everybody knows everybody. It’s just devastating,″ said Aron Peaslee, a friend of Dostie.

The Navy confirmed the death of Builder Chief Petty Officer Joel E. Baldwin, 37, who served in a construction battalion. He was based in Gulfport, Miss. Cmdr. John Rice said Baldwin was ``a great Seabee. A great man.″

Anthony Stramiello Jr., 61, was working as a Halliburton contractor when he died. He was a carpentry foreman on construction projects and he and his wife were restoring their vintage home in Astoria, Ore.

``Anthony did a superb job restoring his 1888 home to its original look,″ said a friend, Teri Latham. ``They have been working on it for many years. He was very good at what he did.″