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Sergeant 'drifted' before enlisting

By Josh Rabe Published: September 13, 2006
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An Army sergeant killed in Iraq last week was "drifting," looking for work when he signed up for the military in Ponca City several years ago, his mother said Tuesday.

Sgt. John A. Carroll, 26, a Pittsburgh native, left the East Coast after high school to find work in the late 1990s and traveled through several states, including Oklahoma.

"He was kind of drifting at the time," said his mother, Dawn Petrakovitz in a phone interview from her Pittsburgh home.

Carroll was killed Sept. 6 when he came under small-arms fire in Ar-Ramadi, Iraq, during a dismounted patrol, an Army spokesman said. Carroll was wounded by enemy fire and died before he could be airlifted to a hospital.

"He called me the moment he signed the (enlistment) paper," Petrakovitz said. "He said, 'Mom, you're not going to be happy about this.'"

Petrakovitz said her son kept most of the details of the war to himself during visits home. Although Carroll took his job seriously, he remained humble about his status as a soldier and shied away from praise for serving his country.

"He said, 'I never knew what to say because I'm just doing my job,'" Petrakovitz said.

Carroll also left behind a wife, Jessica, who is living in Germany, where he was stationed. Carroll was assigned to the Army's 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division out of Baumholder, Germany.

Carroll and his wife married while he was on leave last year. They would have celebrated their first anniversary later this month, Petrakovitz said. The couple did not have any children.

A service is being planned for Carroll in McMinnville, Tenn., where he and his wife planned to live.

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