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Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, June 09, 2005

Grandson of Mount Ayr woman dies in fighting in Iraq

The first casualty of the fighting in Iraq with direct ties to Ringgold County has been reported.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Russell J. VERDUGO was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated as he was responding to a call to search an area in Baghdad, Iraq on Monday, May 23. VERDUGO was 34.

He is the son of Susan and Neil STANLEY of Grand River and the grandson of Ada STANLEY of Mount Ayr.

VERDUGO joined the Army in 1993 as he wanted to pursue a college education and study engineering. He served a tour in Bosnia, and then in Afghanistan in March 2004 and was deployed to Iraq in January 2005.

He was a member of the U.S. Army EOD Squad. He belonged to the 767th Ordnance Company, 63rd Ordnance Battalion, 52nd Ordnance Group of Fort McNair, Washington, D.C.

VERDUGO married Kari YOUNGBERG on Nov. 27, 2004, over Thanksgiving weekend in Manistee, MI. He was anxious to come home when scheduled in early July to be with his new wife. Kari VERDUGO is currently a third grade teacher in Alexandria, VA.

VERDUGO was an avid photographer, always trying to get the perfect shot in the best light and at just the right angle. He also loved working with computers and enjoyed playing extreme games of paint ball.

He was born in Scottsdale, AZ, on April 10, 1971. He grew up mostly in the Phoenix area, with a few years in Hawaii.

He was preceded in death by his father in April 2004. He is survived by his wife, Kari of Alexandria, VA, his mother, Susan and stepfather Neil STANLEY of Grand River, his brother Eric MAESTAS of Chandler, AZ, his half-brothers Rudy (Shelly) VERDUGO of Willcox, AZ and John (Mary) VERDUGO of Rio Rancho, NM and numerous aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.

A military burial with full military honors was held at Arlington National Cemetery, Friday June 3. A memorial service followed at Community Covenant Church in Springfield, VA.

Any memorial in VERDUGO'S name may be directed to a church, charity or special interest of one's choice. There is also an Army Emergency Relief Education Assistance Program to which donations can be given. (These can be directed to Susan and Neil STANLEY of Grand River, IA who in turn will redirect to Staff Sgt. VERDUGO'S wife, Kari VERDUGO.)

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2012

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