Wednesday, March 21, 2018
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War in Iraq
Coverage from National Public Radio


Lieutenant from Mankato killed in Iraq
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1st Lieutenant Michael Fasnacht graduated from Minnesota State University Mankato in 2003. He arrived in Iraq about five months ago. (Photo Courtesy of Lt. Col. Pat O'Sullivan)
The latest Minnesota soldier killed in Iraq is being praised for his love of family and country. 1st Lieutenant Michael Fasnacht was killed by a roadside bomb Wednesday near Tikrit.

Mankato, Minn. — The army lieutenant from Mankato was in charge of 30 other soldiers as a platoon leader in Iraq, part of the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division.

Fasnacht grew up in Janesville and went through the ROTC program at Minnesota State University Mankato. One of his teachers there was Lieutenant Colonel Pat O'Sullivan.

"Soon as we found out yesterday from classmates of his, we contacted army casualty assistance officials to try to confirm," says O'Sullivan. "And all they would tell me is what's been available to the open press is that he was riding as track commander of his Bradley Fighting Vehicle, leading a convoy near Tikrit. And they hit what we call an IED, Improvised Explosive Device, on the side of the road. Right side of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle hit the explosive device and Mike was killed."

O'Sullivan describes Fasnacht as a quiet, humble, dedicated man respected by his fellow soldiers. He graduated from Mankato in 2003 and was commissioned into the U.S. Army. He's been in Iraq since about January.

O'Sullivan says he's heard by email from some of Fasnacht's friends in Iraq. He says they plan to hold a memorial service there this weekend for the fallen soldier. O'Sullivan says Fasnacht was a standout cadet during his time in Mankato.

"Just a superb performer when he was in our ROTC program," says O'Sullivan. "So his loss is huge to me personally because I knew him very, very well. Kind of your ideal ROTC cadet. Just was destined for great things as an army officer."

Fasnacht's family issued a statement on the death of their son and husband.

It read in part: "Michael will be remembered for his devotion to his loving wife, Tresa Ann, his selfless military work, kind faith and unwavering love of his family." The family then requested privacy.

The soldier's death in Iraq is at least the second time a Fasnacht from Janesville has died in combat. A cousin, Air Force Staff Sergeant David Fasnacht, was killed in Viet Nam in July 1967 when his base was shelled.

Among the Minnesota leaders sending condolences to the Fasnacht family was Governor Tim Pawlenty. Pawlenty spoke on his weekly radio show.

"Another example of somebody who came from a military family, military tradition, tradition of patriotism. And of course as with all of these fallen soldiers, we stop and we reflect, we give thanks, we want to express our gratitude, and certainly we want to say to the families of these fallen soldiers that we are grateful for them, that we wouldn't have the country we have without them. And here again, with Michael, we want to express that on behalf of Minnesota," said Pawlenty.

First Lieutenant Fasnacht is the 23rd Minnesotan to have died in the Mideast during the war in Iraq.