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Family, Friends Mourn Father, Soldier

February 4, 1996

LAKEVIEW, Ohio (AP) _ The television in the dimly lit room carried repeated reports Sunday of the death of Sgt. 1st Class Donald A. Dugan, the first U.S. soldier to die on peacekeeping duty in Bosnia.

``He was a good person. He was strong, strong-headed,″ said his ex-wife, Betty Dugan, sitting on a couch in the family room with their two children.

``He was a good father. He was a good husband.″

``I don’t understand why my father is dead, because he was supposed to be over there keeping peace,″ said 19-year-old Lisa Dugan. ``I would like Bill Clinton to explain that to me.″

Her 15-year-old brother, Donald, recalled fishing trips with his father.

Dugan, 38, of nearby Belle Center, was killed Saturday in northern Bosnia when he apparently stepped on a land mine.

He was the ninth alliance soldier to die since NATO troops began entering the Balkans in December. More than 40 soldiers, three of them Americans, have been injured, mostly by mines.

Dugan’s body arrived at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Sunday. No details were available on when he would be returned to the United States, said Army spokesman Klaus Praesent.

Earlier Sunday, at an air base at the Bosnian town of Tuzla, two columns of soldiers stood at attention before U.S. and NATO flags as Dugan’s casket was loaded onto a plane.

He had been in the Army since 1978.

Dugan’s current wife, Mimi, lives in Germany.

His mother, who lives near Kenton in Hardin County, did not want to talk with reporters Sunday. Several relatives had gathered at her home.

Friends recalled Dugan growing up on a farm here in west-central Ohio.

``He was very smart, one of the smartest kids in our class,″ said Kathy Cahill, who graduated with him at Ridgemont High School in 1975. ``He got along with everybody.″

``It’s a lot different when you watch it on TV and you know who it is in the box they’re carrying,″ she said of his death.

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