Army Pfc. Nicholas A. Madaras of Wilton, a soldier with the 4th Infantry Division, was killed by a bomb while on foot patrol in Baqouba, Iraq, on Sept. 3, 2006. He was 19 years old.
Nicholas A. Madaras had plans for college, but he thought a stint in the Army would be good for him. His hometown is mourning him now, remembering the young man as a leader on the soccer field, a sharp student and a caring person.
Madaras, 19, a private first class, was on foot patrol with his 4th Infantry Division unit Sunday during a combat operation in the Iraqi town of Baqouba when a bomb exploded, fatally wounding him, according to the Defense Department.
He is the third serviceman from Connecticut to have died in Iraq in a nine-day period. Madaras was scheduled to finish his tour in Iraq on Oct. 24, three days after his 20th birthday.
"Everybody here is very deeply saddened," said Bob O'Donnell, associate principal at Wilton High School, from which Madaras graduated in 2005. "He was a good student, a great kid. It's a really tragic loss."
Madaras was the son of William J. and Shalini Madaras of Wilton and the older brother of Marie, a senior at Wilton High, and Christopher, a fourth-grader. His father referred questions to a National Guard spokesman Tuesday. Lt. Col. John Whitford said the Guard notified the family of Madaras' death Sunday evening, but he had no other information.
First Selectman William F. Brennan said he and his wife expressed their condolences to the Madaras family on Monday. Brennan said his wife is an acquaintance of Shalini Madaras.
"This is a very sad day for Wilton," Brennan said. He ordered the town's flags flown at half-staff "in respect for a beloved son of Wilton."
Gov. M. Jodi Rell on Tuesday ordered U.S. and state flags, already at half-staff to honor Marine Cpl. Jordan C. Pierson, 21, of Milford, to remain at half-staff for Madaras and Lance Cpl. Philip A. Johnson of Enfield. Johnson, 19, was killed Saturday by a roadside bomb.
"This is a tremendously sad day for Connecticut," Rell said Tuesday in a statement.
On Monday, friends and family attended a memorial for Pierson, a member of Plainville-based Charlie Company, part of the 1st Battalion, 25th Marines, who was killed Aug. 25 in Fallujah. He is to be buried today in Arlington National Cemetery.
Guidance counselor Dann Pompa worked closely with Madaras the last two years he attended high school. Pompa recalled Madaras as a creative young man.
"He was very genuine, a person who cared a lot about people, who related to both adults and peers," Pompa said. "He was very introspective. ... There was a lot of depth in him."
Pompa said he received an e-mail from Madaras at the end of last year discussing his plans to attend college and pursue a career in nursing.
Jim Lewicki, Wilton's head boys' soccer coach, said Madaras started for the team for three years under former head coach Jim Cook, and he worked as the team manager when he stayed on an extra year at Wilton High.
Madaras "was a quiet but intense" soccer player, Lewicki said. "He was a warrior - he worked his ass off, and he led by example." He left for basic training soon after graduating, Lewicki said, and was recently home on leave.
O'Donnell said the tight-knit school community was pulling together behind Madaras' sister and the rest of the family. He remembered Madaras as "a sharp young man who was very caring, who cared for his friends and family."
Contact David K. Funkhouser at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An Advocate of Stamford report is included in this story.