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Pearl grad was 'amazing soldier'


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POSTED: Saturday, May 16, 2009

Fellow soldiers say they have a hard time comprehending the death of Staff Sgt. Randy Agno, a 1997 Pearl City High School graduate, who died a week ago at a Washington, D.C., Army hospital where he was taken after being injured in Iraq.

During a memorial service yesterday at Forward Operating Base Brassfield Mora near Samarra, soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division's 2nd Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, noted that he took pride in his job as a cook and a soldier.

In an e-mail, 3rd Brigade leaders and Agno's friends paid tribute to the father of two children who was on his fourth combat tour—three in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. Herman Barba, assistant dining facility manager for the 2nd Battalion's Company E, 35th Infantry Regiment, said the 29-year-old soldier “;loved to cook and especially loved to make others happy because of his cooking. Staff Sgt. Agno always talked about having his own restaurant and always looked at someone who could do anything he put his mind into doing.”;

Agno, who was on his third Iraqi deployment, died Friday at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., after a noncombat incident April 27 at Forward Operating Base Olsen. The Army is investigating the circumstances surrounding his death. The Pentagon generally attributes deaths by natural causes, a vehicle or other accident, friendly fire, homicide or suicide as noncombat in nature.

Lt. Col Samuel Whitehurst, who commands the 2nd Battalion, described Agno as “;professional, devoted, compassionate, always putting his soldiers first, and someone who always accomplished the mission. ... And there are many of us who will remember because he possessed a talent for making a lasting impression on all those who were fortunate enough to share just a few minutes with him. Even though he was an outstanding soldier and a noncommissioned officer, he never took the credit for his or his team's accomplishment. He always put his soldiers out front and ensured that they were the ones recognized. As a leader he personified the qualities that we all aspire to possess. He was a man who served his country both in Afghanistan and Iraq, a leader who always gave 100 percent of himself to his unit and his soldiers, someone who always went the extra mile for his family and his friends.”;

Capt. Christopher Denton, company commander, said he has been “;struggling for days trying to find the right words to say today to honor Staff Sgt. Agno in a way that is fitting for such an amazing soldier. It is hard to grasp the reality of losing someone who has had such a positive impact on the mission and so many of his fellow soldiers. How he took such pride in his work, how he tried to do whatever he could do to better serve the soldiers around him and how he did it all with a positive attitude and a smile on his face. He made an impact on everyone he came in contact with.”;

Sgt. 1st Class Angelo Stewart, dining facility manager for Company E, said Agno “;always took pride in whatever product he put out. One could just see how overjoyed he would become when someone really loved a dish he had prepared.”;

Agno was the third soldier from the 3rd Brigade to have died from a noncombat injury. Six 3rd Brigade soldiers have died in Iraq since the 25th Infantry Division unit deployed to Iraq in October.

Agno joined the Army in 1998, was trained as a food specialist and arrived in Hawaii in 2001.