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Soldiers’ stories

A number of memorial services will take place around town today, Memorial Day, honoring American armed forces members who died in military service.

Three young men from Nevada County have been killed in the Iraq War so far – Marine Lance Cpl. Adam Strain, Marine Lance Cpl. John Lucente and Marine 1st Lt. Nathan Krissoff. Their stories are told below.

At 9 a.m. at Nevada City’s Pioneer Park, eighth-grader Stephen Cobbe will dedicate his War on Terror memorial plaque for soldiers who have fallen in the Iraq and Afghan wars.



Cobbe is in the process of earning his Eagle Scout ranking and worked on the plaque for his service project. The memorial service will be conducted by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

At 10 a.m. in Grass Valley, The American Legion and other local veterans groups will conduct memorial services at Memorial Park.




Speakers will include The Union’s Publisher Jeff Ackerman, Chairman of Nevada County Supervisors John Spencer and former Grass Valley Mayor Patti Ingram.

Reasonably priced hot dogs and hamburgers will be available for purchase at the picnic following the memorial service.

-The Union Staff

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Marine Lance Cpl. Adam Strain

By Greg Moberly

Staff Writer

Marine Lance Cpl. Adam Strain, a 2003 Nevada Union High School graduate, was the first person with Nevada County ties to die in the Iraq war.

Strain, 20, died in August 2005 from small-arms fire in Ar Ramadi, Iraq.

Last year, during the first Memorial Day without his son, Rob Strain told The Union there isn’t a day that goes by when the Strains don’t think about their son.

“Personally, it’s rough, but we’re not the only ones,” the elder Strain said at that time.

The younger Strain lived in Smartville with his family, and he worked as a courtesy clerk at SPD Market in Grass Valley. He joined the Marines after high school.

His death sparked an outpouring of grief from Nevada Union students and alumni, and vehicles marked with messages such as “R.I.P My Friend” lined Ridge Road for the funeral procession. The school retired Strain’s blue-and-gold No. 88 football jersey.

Adam Strain had yearned for a military career but also dreamed of becoming an actor, friends said at the time.

Adam Strain was engaged to Barbara Wycliffe of Penn Valley when he died. The two had planned to marry in June 2006 and live in San Diego, Wycliffe said at the time.

“He died proud for his country,” Wycliffe had said.

Wycliffe and Strain’s parents, who now live in North Hero, Vt., could not be reached for comment.

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To contact Staff Writer Greg Moberly, e-mail gregm@theunion.com or call 477-4234.

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Marine Lance Cpl. John Lucente

BY laura brown

Staff Writer

Kristine Mason knows she can never again hold her son or breathe in the smell of him.

Marine Lance Cpl. John A. “J.T.” Lucente was 19 when he was killed. He was ambushed while performing a sweep near the town of Ubaydi, near Iraq’s border with Syria, on Nov. 16, 2005.

But Mason, of Lake of the Pines, has learned that recounting her memories of him can heal the pain.

“I love sharing his story,” said Mason, who sees herself as a spokesperson for families of fallen soldiers in the future.

“He took down 17 insurgents. He saved three Marines. My son’s a hero,” Mason said.

Lucente, a 2004 Bear River High School graduate, was posthumously honored for his valor with a Bronze Star by Marine Corps members last fall.

Mason spoke at a Blue Star flag raising earlier this month and will attend a 9 a.m. Memorial Day service at Pioneer Park today.

Events like these are important to Mason because, she said, they allow her to meet other service families and talk about Lucente.

When her son’s belongings were returned to her, she found a digital camera with more than 100 images of other soldiers. She met with Lucente’s entire platoon and commanding officer to share the photos and hear details about his last days.

“Death is a horrible thing, but you have to spin the positive out of tragedy,” Mason said. “You have to remember the good things.”

This Memorial Day, she is hopeful that people remember the holiday is more than a day to party at the lake.

“At least take a few minutes to recognize what the day is,” Mason said.

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To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail laurab@theunion.com or call 477-4231.

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Marine 1st Lt. Nathan Krissoff

BY SOUMITRO SEN

Staff Writer

Marine 1st Lt. Nathan Krissoff died in Dec. 9, 2006, of wounds sustained during a roadside bombing in the Al Anbar province in Iraq. He was 25.

Krissoff posthumously received a Purple Heart and the Navy and Marine Commendation Medal with the Combat Distinguishing Device for Valor. He had joined the United States Marine Corps in June 2004.

William Krissoff, Nathan’s father and a doctor who practices in Reno and Truckee, said his family was coping with its loss “with difficulty.”

“We are proud of him,” the elder Krissof said. “He believed in fighting terrorism. It was important to him. He was deeply affected by 9/11.”

Nathan Krissoff was born in Truckee and spent his early childhood there before moving to Reno. He graduated from Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., where he majored in political science.

At Williams College, Nathan Krissoff was a member of the water polo and swim teams, which he captained during his senior year. He also was an avid kayaker and alpine skier.

Nathan Krissoff is survived by his parents and his brother, Marine 2nd Lt. Austin Krissoff. Austin Krissoff is stationed in Virginia, his father said.

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To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail soumitros@theunion.com or call 477-4229.


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