Monday, December 22, 2014
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Wisconsin town mourns the death of soldier in Iraq
A 24-year-old Army sergeant from the small Mississippi River community of Fountain City, Wisconsin, was killed in a car bomb explosion in Iraq on Monday. Andrew Bossert is the 35th Wisconsin soldier killed in the U.S.-led war. Back at home, he's being remembered as a devoted son, star athlete and aspiring architect.

Rochester, Minn. — Andrew Bossert, known to friends and family as Andy, was stationed a checkpoint when he was killed around midnight Iraq time. Early the next day two Army officers traveled to his mother's rural Fountain City home, just across the river from Winona, to deliver the news.

Mark Brone, Bossert's high school basketball coach, says understandably, the family is having a hard time.

"Having spoken with Diane, his mother, yesterday ... she's devastated," says Brone. "But she's also aware that Andy was getting the opportunity to do something a lot of people don't get to, and that's pursue something he loved. And they feel confident that he was ultimately aware that he could pay for his job with his life."

Bossert graduated from Fountain City High School in 1999. That year he was voted MVP of the basketball team. Coach Brone says he was good enough to have played college ball. Instead, Bossert opted to enter the military. He traded the rolling bluffs of western Wisconsin for a two-and-a- half-year assignment in South Korea. That's where he met his wife, Olya.

Not long after leaving South Korea, Bossert was sent to Iraq. His family does not know where he was in Iraq when he was killed, but they do know he had spent considerable time in the Fallujah area, where there has been fierce fighting.

Mark Brone says Bossert was part of an engineering unit. He says Bossert dreamed of one day becoming an architect, and engineering was a good fit.

"He was part of a division that deals with transportation and infrastructure -- building bridges and making sure roadways were clear. That appealed to him, and I think that was maybe one of the reasons he maybe stayed there," Brone says. "Because I knew there was some sort of correlation with architecture and city planning, some of the things he had a passion for as a citizen, and he was having a chance to explore that."

In addition to his wife, Bossert leaves behind his parents, two siblings and countless friends.

It's expected to take roughly a week for his remains to return to Wisconsin. Bossert spent much of his childhood in the town of Cassville, and its expected that's where the funeral and burial will take place. The family is also planning a memorial service in Fountain City.

Steve Meiden, the superintendent of the Cochrane-Fountain City School District, says the district is in mourning.

"It's not good news, obviously. There's a tremendous loss here for his family, for his wife, for the community and for this country," says Meiden. "Unfortunately, more and more of these young men have been called up from our area. And it really brings up the risk, and the price that we're paying for the work that we're doing."

Meiden says several of the school district's graduates are now serving in Iraq as part of National Guard unit deployed several months ago. He says Bossert's death is grim news for loved ones at home.

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