Army Private First Class Melissa Hobart, who grew up in East Haven, collapsed and died June 6, 2004 while serving guard duty in Baghdad. The cause of her death had yet to be determined. She was 22, and leaves a 3-year-old daughter.
A soldier who grew up in East Haven died Sunday in Iraq, leaving behind a 3-year-old daughter.
"She thought she was needed in the military," her mother Constance, 44, said through tears Tuesday. "I begged her not to go, not to join, but you can't stop her."
Hobart, who had lived in Ladson, S.C., for about six years, was weeks away from a visit home when she died, her mother said, and had begun to express doubts about her purpose in Iraq.
"At the beginning she thought she was doing good, good for the United States, good for democracy and freedom," said Constance Hobart, who also lives in South Carolina. "Then she didn't know what she was doing there anymore ... [Iraqis] throw rocks at them and they don't want them there anymore."
Hobart entered the military, her brother and mother said, to help her country and provide for her daughter Alexis.
"She wanted her life to change," Gary Hobart, 26, said. "She didn't know what she wanted for a while, [but] when she had her child, she wanted to be able to support her and provide a good life for her daughter."
After earning a GED, Hobart attended nursing school at Trident Technical College for a year, her mother said, before deciding to join the Army.
Hobart's family described her as personable and caring - someone who, in her brother Gary's words, "would be willing to help anybody." She loved to listen to music and watch movies with her friends, her mother said, and was an avid reader of Steven King novels.
"She was spunky and outgoing," Constance Hobart said. "She had tons of friends ... she liked taking care of people."
While in Iraq with Company E, 215th Forward Support Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, Hobart made a special effort to keep in touch with her family.
"She used to call all the time and talk to her daughter," her brother Gary said. "She also made it a priority to call everyone else in the family."
When Hobart called, her brother said, she would often say that she missed being home, but that she knew she had a commitment to fulfill, and was working hard to do her job well. He noted that he was proud of her long before she joined the military, but said he admires the work she did in Iraq.
"I think what she did is great," Gary Hobart said. "I believe in what we're doing over there, I support the troops, and it's sad when this happens, but that's just one of those prices that has to be paid in order to have the freedoms we have in America."