RAMSEY, MN, USA U.S. Army SPC, COMPANY B, 1ST BATTALION, 27TH INFANTRY, 2 BCT, SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, HI BAGHDAD, IRAQ 03/26/2008
A soldier from North St. Paul who died in Iraq joined the Army because he thought it would help him achieve his dream of becoming a police officer, relatives said Thursday night. Army Specialist Gregory B. Rundell, 21, was killed by a sniper Wednesday while manning a guard tower at a base just north of Baghdad, they said.
“I believe Greg gave the ultimate sacrifice. He is a hero in my heart and life,” said his mother, Joanne Richardson, of North St. Paul. “I stand tall and brave, because my son stood tall and brave.”
Rundell was a graduate of North St. Paul High School and had been in Iraq for about three months. His mother told reporters he joined the Army in 2005.
“I would like you all to know that Greg was a good kid,” Richardson said. “When he told me about his decision to join the Army, it broke my heart because I knew this day might come.”
Sergeant Kyle Richardson of the Minnesota National Guard, who recently returned from Iraq, was among four siblings who also attended the news conference at the St. Paul National Guard Armory.
“He knew what the risks were. … He believed in a cause that was greater than his own,” Kyle Richardson said.
Rundell was due to serve around another year in Iraq. His family said he planned to go to college after he got out of the Army and dreamed of becoming a police officer.
“He had a smile and gentle spirit that drew many people to him,” his mother said.
The family decided to announce his death themselves rather than wait for the official Department of Defense announcement.
In a letter written from basic training in Fort Benning, Ga., Rundell told his mother not to worry about him, but to take heart, even if the worst happened:
“Please don’t shed a tear for me,” he wrote. “Don’t worry. I don’t want tears of loss, but tears of happiness for what I was able to do.”