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Since 2001, 1906 U.S. troops have lost their lives while serving in Afghanistan, and since 2003, 4484 U.S. troops have lost their lives while serving in Iraq.

The IGTNT (I Got The News Today) series is a reminder that nearly every day, somebody gets the heartbreaking news that a beloved family member, friend, or former classmate will not be coming home from war.

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                                                                                       ~ Photo Credit Timroff

The Department of Defense has announced the death of a soldier who was supporting the Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn mission.

On Feb. 25, the armed forces medical examiner at the Dover Port Mortuary in Dover, Del., positively identified the remains of Staff Sgt. Ahmed K. Altaie, of Ann Arbor, MI.  He was assigned to the Provincial Reconstruction Team, Divisional Training Center, Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

On Dec. 11, 2006, a casualty review board declared Altaie “missing – captured” after his disappearance in Baghdad, Iraq on Oct. 23, 2006.  Altaie was the final missing soldier and casualty to be recovered from the Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn mission.

Also, the Department of Defense has announced the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
 

Maj. Robert J. Marchanti II, 48, of Baltimore, MD, died Feb. 25, in Kabul, Afghanistan. Marchanti was assigned to 1st Battalion, 29th Infantry Division Security Partnering Team of the Maryland Army National Guard, Baltimore, MD.
Please join me below for a remembrance of their lives.

The remains of Staff Sgt. Ahmed Altaie were turned over last week as part of a prisoner exchange agreement between the Iraqi government and the militant group Asaib Ahl al-Haq, which was responsible for Altaie's abduction in October 2006. The group acknowledged killing the soldier within a year of his abduction.

Altaie was 41 years old at the time of his abduction. He was born in Iraq but moved to the United States with his family at age 12. As an adult he lived with his parents in Ann Arbor, MI and worked as a pilot and airplane mechanic.

Shortly after Saddam's fall from power in 2003, Altaie met his wife, Israa Abdul-Satara, during a trip to Iraq. In December 2004, he joined an Army reserve program for native speakers of Arabic, Dari and other strategic languages. After his marriage, he was deployed to Iraq in November 2005 as a translator.


Sgt. Ahmed K. Altaie with his wife Israa Abdul-Satara

Kidnappings were common in Iraq during that turbulent time. Relatives say "he often met secretly with his wife at her family's home despite warnings that he was in danger of being kidnapped." After a group of armed, masked men dragged Altaie to a waiting car on October 23, 2006, American commanders immediately launched a massive manhunt for him.

About a week later, a family member received a ransom demand, but negotiations with various intermediaries lasted for years. Altaie was last seen four months after his abduction in a video posted on the Internet by a Shiite militant faction which is linked to Asaib Ahl al-Haq.

According to U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. David Russell, a spokesman for the Multi-National Force-Iraq:

“The universal expectation that no one will be left behind is a fundamental article of faith that underpins the motivation and confidence of every U.S. service member deploying to a foreign duty location."

Staff Sgt. Ahmed K. Altaie has returned home at last. He is survived by his parents and his wife, who live in Michigan, and by relatives in Iraq.

~source~ ~source~

Rest in peace, Staff Sgt. Ahmed K. Altaie. You have served with honor.

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Maj. Robert J. Marchanti II

Maj. Robert J. Marchanti II, 48, of the Maryland National Guard, was one of two U.S. military officers shot to death inside a ministry building in Kabul, Afghanistan, over the weekend.

Major Marchanti and Air Force Lt. Col. John D. Loftis were working Saturday afternoon in a small room at the National Police Coordination Center when the gunman entered the room, officials said. People in other parts of the building heard two gunshots, and found Major Marchanti and Colonel Loftis, each with a single gunshot wound to the head.

Major Marchanti was a longtime physical-education teacher in the Baltimore County public schools. He had been working since September as a mentor to the Afghan National Police, part of the NATO partnering mission. It was his first deployment to Afghanistan.

His 18-year-old son, Ian, said:

"We never thought this would happen. Things seemed pretty calm. We would get worried once in a while, but we thought he was safe."
Major Marchanti taught for 17 years in the Baltimore County schools. He joined the Army in 1984 and the Maryland National Guard in 1986. Ian Marchant said his father "loved teaching, particularly when it came to children with special needs."

Major Marchanti left teaching in 2008 for a full-time job with the National Guard. Married with four children and a grandson, he had been due to return from his one-year deployment in September.

According to Ian Marchanti, Robert and Peggy Marchanti met in high school and had been married for 24 years. Peggy Marchanti traveled to Dover Air Force Base on Monday to meet her husband's remains.

 
An Army carry team moves a transfer case containing the remains of Maj. Robert J. Marchanti II Monday, Feb. 27, 2012 at Dover Air Force Base, DE.

Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Charles S. Kohler described Marchanti as

"... a gentle giant. He was a really nice, unassuming person. He's a big guy, [a] strong powerful guy. You meet him, right away you could tell he's physically fit. But he's just a quiet, unassuming person. He's just a true gentleman and someone who was well-liked by everybody."
Major Marchanti is survived by his wife; children Aaron, Leah, Ian and Jonah; and a 3-year-old grandson.

~source~ ~source~ ~source~

Rest in peace, Major Robert J. Marchanti II. You have served with honor.


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About the IGTNT series:

"I Got the News Today" is a diary series intended to honor, respect, and remind us of the sacrifice of our US troops. Click here to see the series, which was begun by i dunno, and which is maintained by Sandy on Signal, noweasels,  monkeybiz, blue jersey mom, Chacounne, twilight falling, joyful, SisTwo, SpamNunn, TrueBlueMajority, CalNM, Wide Awake in Kentucky, maggiejean,  Kestrel9000, TheFatLadySings, JaxDem, and me, Ekaterin. These diaries are heartbreaking to write, but are an important service to those who have died, and show our community’s respect for them.

Diaries about the fallen usually appear two days after their names are officially released, which allows time for the IGTNT team to find and tell their stories. The US Department of Defense news releases are found at defense gov/releases. Icasualties lists the names of those killed, and shows the number of wounded. Published AP photos of the returning war fatalities are found on the Dover AFB site. Click the IGTNT tags below for previous diaries in the series which was begun by i dunno, and which is maintained by monkeybiz, noweasels, blue jersey mom, Chacounne, twilight falling, joyful, roses, SisTwo, a girl in MI, Spam Nunn, JeNoCo, Janos Nation, True Blue Majority, Proud Mom and Grandma, Sandy on Signal, Wide Awake in Kentucky, Ms Wings, maggiejean, racheltracks, ccasas, JaxDem, CalNM, TheFatLadySings, and me, Ekaterin. These diaries are heartbreaking to write, but are an important service to those who have died, and show our community’s respect for our fallen brothers and sisters.

If you would like to contribute to the series, even once a month, please contact Sandy on Signal.

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Please bear in mind that these diaries are read by friends and family of the service members mentioned here. May all of our remembrances be full of compassion rather than politics.
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