SAINT LOUIS, MO, USA U.S. Army SGT, 101ST SIGNAL DETACHMENT, 501ST SPEC TRP BN, (1 MEF) FORT CAMPBELL, KY TIKRIT, IRAQ 03/16/2006
The Army on Monday identified two soldiers with the 101st Airborne Division who were killed last week when a mortar exploded near them in Iraq.
Sergeant Amanda N. Pinson, 21, of St. Louis and Specialist Carlos M. Gonzalez, 22, of Middletown, N.Y. died March 16 in Tikrit, Iraq, the Army said.
Pinson, a signals intelligence analyst, entered the Army in July 2003 and arrived at Fort Campbell in March 2004. Pinson enlisted out of high school when she was 18, telling a newspaper columnist at the time that she thought the experience would help her grow and that she was aware of the dangers involved.
But I didn’t really think about it, Pinson told St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Harry Levins in 2003. I thought, ‘This is what I want to do – and I’m going to do it, no matter what.’ I tell everybody, ‘It just feels right.’
Pinson’s mother told the Post-Dispatch that her daughter continued to believe she had made the right choice. She loved being in the Army and she loved doing her job, Ehlen said. She felt like her work saved American lives. That’s what she did.
Pinson, 21, was a model soldier and a breath of fresh air, said Lt. Col. Lucinda Lane, who spoke at her memorial service.
Pinson graduated from Hancock Place High School, where she won several scholarships and was on the basketball and softball teams. She planned to attend college after her military service and become an FBI or CIA agent. School district Superintendent Ed Stewart said she believed military service was the best means of helping others.
After 31 years of teaching, there are certain children that come along that you see who already have purpose in their lives. She was one of those people, said Gail Bowman, a retired teacher from Hancock Place Middle School.
Pinson’s parents, Chris Ehlen and Tony Pinson, received a posthumous Bronze Star and Purple Heart on her behalf. Her mother said she had talked her daughter out of enlisting once, but she was aware of the dangers and soon joined up anyway.
Those who worked with Pinson counted on her bright smile and kind words, Lane said. She believed what she was doing was preventing another 9/11, said her father, Tony Pinson. She’s a hero.
She also is survived by her mother, Christina Ehlen, and stepmother, Regina Pinson.