Vt. loses 27th son in Iraq

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MONTPELIER -- A 22-year-old Vermont soldier killed in Iraq was described by the headmaster of the academy he attended as fun-loving, thoughtful and reflective.

U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Joseph Fortin, of St. Johnsbury, was killed Sunday by an improvised explosive device while riding in a vehicle in Muhallah, near Baghdad, the Vermont National Guard said Tuesday.

"He’s the kind of kid who wouldn’t end up on every page of the yearbook, but he was caring and responsible," said Tom Lovett, the headmaster of the St. Johnsbury Academy where Fortin graduated in 2004. "He was thoughtful and reflective. He liked to have fun."

U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said he and his wife, Marcelle, were saddened to hear of Fortin’s death. Leahy said he had spoken with Fortin’s wife and parents.

"In this time of unspeakable grief, we hope that the fellowship of family and friends and the prayers of all Vermonters will bring them comfort," Leahy said. "It is clear to me that Lt. Fortin was a wonderful husband, son and soldier, and this is a loss not only for those who knew him, but for all Americans."

Fortin was the 27th serviceman with ties to Vermont to die in Iraq, according to a count by The Associated Press. Another Vermont soldier was killed in Afghanistan, and one died of natural causes in Kuwait.

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"All of us are saddened by the loss of another Vermonter who paid the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq," said U.S. Sen. Bernard Sanders.

Vermont U.S. Rep. Peter Welch said Fortin’s family should be kept in the thoughts and prayers of all Vermonters.

"Vermont has lost a brave soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country," Welch said.

Fortin was a fire support officer with the 1st Calvary Division, based at Fort Hood, Texas. While he was not a member of the Vermont National Guard, they are supporting the soldier’s family.

"Lieutenant Fortin has made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of a nation that he both loved and served as a member of the United States Army," said Maj. Gen. Michael Dubie, the adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard. "I offer my own personal condolences and those of the men and women of the Vermont National Guard to his family and friends and honor his courage and sacrifice that he has made."

Fortin is survived by his parents, Martin and Betsy Fortin of St. Johnsbury, and his wife, Nicquelle, also of St. Johnsbury.

Funeral arrangements were incomplete.


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