"I don't believe his death was in vain," she said. "But if we leave Iraq before the job is finished, then he did die in vain."
For those whose family members remain alive and well in Iraq, the crash was a sobering reminder of how swiftly death can come in war.
Bethany Gasperini's husband, Geoff, is a soldier in Iraq and will be flying on a helicopter today. Needless to say, the Ft. Carson woman is worried.
"The whole situation, war, it's all so random," she said. "The women I speak to make it day by day; they do it in honor of their husbands. I'm always so impressed. With honorable men and women in the military, I think you get honorable families as well."
Times staff writers Jia-Rui Chong in Los Angeles, P.J. Huffstutter in Chicago and Tony Perry in San Diego contributed to this report.
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Those killed in downing of helicopter
The Pentagon, Ft. Sill, Ft. Hood and relatives have provided the names of 12 of the 16 soldiers who were killed in Iraq on Sunday when their Chinook helicopter was shot down by a shoulder-fired missile.
The victims were identified as:
* Pfc. Karina S. Lau, 20, of Livingston, Calif. She was assigned to the 16th Signal Battalion, 3rd Signal Brigade, Ft. Hood, Texas.
* Staff Sgt. Paul A. Velazquez, 29, of San Diego. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, III Corps Artillery at Ft. Sill, Okla.
* Sgt. Ernest G. Bucklew, 33, of Enon Valley, Pa. He was assigned to the Support Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Ft. Carson, Colo.
* Sgt. Steven D. Conover, 21, of Wilmington, Ohio. His mother, Lorraine Earley, said he was a specialist in field artillery based at Ft. Sill.
* Pfc. Anthony D. Dagostino, 20, of Waterbury, Conn. He was assigned to the 16th Signal Battalion, Ft. Hood.
* Spc. Darius T. Jennings, 22, of Cordova, S.C. He was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, based at Ft. Carson.
* Sgt. Keelan L. Moss, 23, of Houston. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, Ft. Sill.
* Sgt. Ross A. Pennanen, 36, of Oklahoma. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, Ft. Sill.
* Spc. Joel Perez of Puerto Rico. He belonged to an Army artillery battalion.
* 1st Lt. Brian D. Slavenas, 30, of Genoa, Ill. He was assigned to F Company, 106th Aviation Battalion, Army National Guard, Peoria, Ill.
* Spc. Frances M. Vega, 20, of San Francisco and Puerto Rico. She was assigned to the 151st Adjutant General Postal Detachment 3 at Ft. Hood.
* Staff Sgt. Joe N. Wilson, 30, of Crystal Springs, Miss. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, Ft. Sill.
The names of four other soldiers who died in the crash have not been provided.
Also Monday, the Pentagon released the names of two U.S. soldiers killed Saturday in Iraq. First Lt. Joshua C. Hurley, 24, of Virginia, was killed in Mosul when his vehicle was hit with an improvised bomb. Hurley was assigned to the 326th Engineer Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Ft. Campbell, Ky.
Second Lt. Benjamin J. Colgan, 30, of Kent, Wash., died in Baghdad. He was responding to a rocket-propelled grenade attack when he was struck with an improvised bomb. Colgan was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Giessen, Germany.
Source: Times Staff and Wire Reports