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Saturday, 22-Oct-2005 00:00 Email | Share | Bookmark
LCpl Andrew Russoli

LCpl Andrew Russoli
Article published Oct 22, 2005

Family, friends recall slain Marine

By Allison Perkins
Staff Writer

GREENSBORO -- Tears turned to smiles Friday as friends remembered Andrew David Russoli's "explosive laugh" and his efforts to keep girls out of his childhood "boys only" backyard clubhouse.

Russoli, 21, was killed Thursday in Iraq.

Russoli, a lance corporal, was one of three Marines and a soldier, all assigned to Regimental Combat Team 8, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), who were killed by a roadside bomb attack near Nasser Wa Salaam.

Military officials said that during the subsequent engagement, Marines killed two terrorists and detained four others suspected of involvement in the attack.

Russoli, who graduated from Northwest High School in 2003, was serving his second tour in Iraq. He left for the combat zone in mid-July, one day before his 21st birthday.

He had previously been awarded a Purple Heart for injuries he received during his first tour, which ended in September 2004, when a roadside bomb caused his vehicle to flip upside-down.

Friends and family say being a Marine was something Russoli had wanted to do since he was a little boy.

"He always loved military things and he would play with G.I. Joes more than anything else," said his mother, Sally White, of Greensboro. "He used to dress up in camouflage, and he and his friends used to go to the creek and play 'creek control' and look for the bad guys.

"I think he was born to do this, just not for as long as I thought," White said.

"I'm very proud of him," she said. "He was a very good son. He gave the greatest bear hugs you could ever want."

On Friday, the friends he grew up with in his church youth group at College Park Baptist Church gathered at his mother's home and often burst into giggles as they talked about their childhood exploits together.

"So many stories. So many stories," said longtime friend Phillip Jones. Russoli was the cute one, the girls said. The one everyone had a crush on. His sense of humor, his laugh, were infectious.

He was a poet. When he watched movies, his mother said, he tried to learn the moral of the story and live by it.

Russoli was a trombone player in his middle school jazz band. When he was 10, he learned how to fence. When there were no students his age to compete against, he fenced against adults -- and won.

His dedication to friends and family was the memory they cherished most.

"If I ever needed to talk to him I really felt like he was listening," said Jones said.

As they shared stories and laughed, the gathered friends said they were proud of Russoli.

"Proud beyond belief," Jones said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact Allison Perkins at 373-7157 or aperkins@news-record.com

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