Sgt. Mark A. Maida, 22, of Madison, Wisconsin. He was a 2001 graduate of Memorial High School. As a teenager he considered joining the military, following in the footsteps of his grandfathers, both were WWII veterans, and his father, a retired Madison detective, who served in Vietnam. His brother was serving in the Marine Corps and since Mark didn't want to attend college just then, he enlisted in the Army shortly after the 9-11 terrorist attacks. He served three years at Fort Irwin, California, where he trained other soldiers in the desert in preparation for deployment to Iraq. His three-year military term was completed on October 31, 2004, and he was enrolled to begin classes at Madison Area Technical College. He also planned on getting married to his high school sweetheart. But the U.S. military Stop-Loss program ended those plans and banned him from leaving the Army, sending him to Iraq instead. On January 9, 2005, he left for Iraq assigned to the Army's 2nd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, based out of Fort Irwin. While there he kept a rosary, a baptismal ring, a pendant of heaven, and a St. Christopher's medal. He also adopted a puppy he named Maxine. When his friends asked him why he didn't fight harder to get out once his time had expired, Mark said he would have felt terrible if anything happened to the other guys and he wasn't there to help. On May 26 he was extremely tired and on his way back to the base to get three hours of sleep, but instead he went to back up some guys who needed help. He was critically injured when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV in Diyarah, Iraq. He died the next day of those injuries in Baghdad. Mark liked to celebrate life, music, being outdoors, including hunting, fishing and sky diving. His motto was "Get busy living or get busy dying." Mark is survived by his parents, Ray and Diane; a sister, Juliann (Ian) Mutch; two brothers, Aaron (Allison) Maida and Christopher Maida; a grandmother, Olga Herman; two nieces, Jasmine Maida and Abbey Mutch; two nephews, Isaac Maida and Owen Mutch; and girlfriend, Elizabeth Jacobs. He was preceded in death by his grandparents, Daniel Maida and Jean Maida, and Hugh P. Herman (a survivor of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.) Bio written by Sue.
*Note the family uses May 26 as his death date, the Army says May 27.
Bronze Star Medal
Operation Iraqi Freedom
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