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Body of Missing GI Identified as Pfc. Anzack

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

In Southern California today, friends and family of a fallen soldier are calling him a hero. Twenty-year-old Private Joseph Anzack's body was found outside Baghdad, not far from where his unit was ambushed by insurgence nearly two weeks ago. Two other soldiers in the unit are still missing.

NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

CARRIE KAHN: The steps of South High in Torrance are filled with candles, red, white and blue balloons, and flowers. A huge poster board is full of condolences from friends and fellow students of Joe Anzack, who graduated here just two years ago.

Ms. CHRISTINE HAPGOOD(ph)(Resident, Torrance, California): We love you, Joe. You are our hero. Britney.

KAHN: Christine Hapgood, whose son went to school with Anzack, reads from the impromptu memorial. She added some plastic white flowers and a few more American flags that she brought this morning as soon as she heard the news.

Ms. HAPGOOD: I'm glad that he served for us. He's a brave young man. He was a nice kid. He always addressed you with Mrs. Hapgood or thank you very much - a very nice kid.

KAHN: Joe Anzack played football here and was on the school wrestling team. Friends said he talk about joining the Army for years, and enlisted right out of high school. Last month, rumor circulated on the Internet that Anzack had been killed but those turned out to be untrue. On Anzack's MySpace page, he posted a note saying he was still kicking. South High Principal Scott McDowell says everyone was hoping this time when Anzack's unit was ambushed on May 12 that he would show up alive again.

Mr. SCOTT McDOWELL (Principal, South High School): As long as there was no news, there was hope. And yet, the waiting and waiting and waiting was unbearable. But of course, as long as there was hope, it certainly felt better.

KAHN: Anzack's family gathered in their small apartment after receiving news from an Army chaplain that his body had been found floating in the Euphrates River. Principal McDowell says Anzack's death has brought the war home for students at South High.

Mr. McDOWELL: I think for a lot of kids now, this is something real. You know, what is happening over there. These are real people, real, I mean, real young men that they shared time with, who are over there fighting and dying. And it gives them a new perspective on reality.

KAHN: Anzack's MySpace Web site is flooded with condolences. Members of his platoon in Iraq choke back tears at news of his death and told the Associated Press, they would not stop looking for their unit's other two missing soldiers.

Carrie Kahn, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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United States & World National & International ObituariesMorning EditionAll Things Considered
Carrie Kahn is NPR's International Correspondent based in Mexico City, Mexico. She covers Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Kahn's reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning news programs including All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and on NPR.org.