JOHNSTOWN, PA, USA
PFC, COMPANY A, 44TH ENGINEER BN (COMBAT), 2D INFANTRY DIV, CAMP HOWZE, KOREA
BAGHDAD, IRAQ 10/11/2004
Aaron Rusin spent most of his spare time at local fire departments as a volunteer, even when he was home on leave from the Army. “He was awesome. He was one of those kids who would do anything. You never had to ask him twice,” said Barry Emerson, assistant chief for the Jackson Township fire department.
Rusin, 19, of Johnstown, Pa., died Oct. 11 after being shot while driving in a military convoy, less than a month after he arrived in Iraq. He was based at Camp Howze, South Korea. An honors student, Rusin played football and ran track in high school and was a volunteer firefighter with two departments. Fellow firefighters described him as selfless and dutiful. He joined the Army after graduating from high school, in part to be like his father, three uncles and grandfather, who all served.
He is survived by his parents, Tim and Sandra Rusin. Tim Rusin said he had last talked with his son about a week ago. “He said everything was fine over there but he wanted to come home.”
Aaron Rusin grew up just down the road from Laurel Valley High School. He was very active in his community, first as an altar boy at his church and as a volunteer firefighter.
“Aaron was well-liked and enjoyed being a fireman in both Fairfield Township and in Jackson Township,” said Tim Rusin in a 2004 interview.
Private First Class Rusin joined the Army in October 2003 and planned to use the GI Bill to pay for a college education after he completed his military obligation.
Rusin was assigned to serve with the 44th Engineer Battalion, Company A, First Platoon, Third Squad in March 2004. In August of 2004, he was deployed to Iraq. Rusin died of wounds received in an ambush by insurgent forces in the city of Ar Ramadi, Iraq.
After he was wounded, Rusin continued to operate his squad’s armored personnel carrier to get his squad safely out of the ambush area. His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.