Monday, July 2, 2012

Defense Department Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

They died June 24, in Kandahar, Afghanistan.  Both were assigned to the 96th Transportation Company, 180th Transportation Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), Fort Hood, Texas.

Staff Sgt. Robert A. Massarelli, 32, of Hamilton, Ohio, completed three tours of duty in Iraq prior to his final tour in Afghanistan. Army records show he entered active duty in February 2001 as a motor transport operator.

During his years in the military, Massarelli received four Army Commendation Medals, two Army Achievement Medals, three Army Good Conduct Medals, a National Defense Service Medal, and an Afghanistan Campaign Medal with campaign star. 

Sgt. Michael J. Strachota, 28, was from White Hall, Arkansas.

His wife, Lauren Strachota, said the couple married in 2004 and her husband joined the military in 2007.  This was Strachota's second tour of duty --  once in Iraq and this one in Afghanistan.

He was only days away from returning home for two weeks after spending the last nine months in Afghanistan.

"He was trying to come home for our son’s third birthday on July 5," said his wife. "We missed it by a week.”  
According to his father, Patrick Strachota, Michael enjoyed fishing and riding motorcycles in his off time.

He is survived by his wife, Lauren and son, William Strachota of Fort Hood, Texas; his mother, Linda Baxter of Star City; his father, Patrick Strachota of Pine Bluff; and his grandmother, Betty Bradshaw of Pine Bluff.

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