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U.S. Peacekeeper Killed in Bosnia Is Remembered as 'Model Soldier'

February 05, 1996| From Times Wire Services

LAKEVIEW, Ohio — The television in the dimly lighted 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-Herzegovina.

"He was a good person. He was strong, strong-headed," said his ex-wife, Betty Dugan, sitting on a couch in the family room of her home 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 deploying to the Balkans in December. More than 40 soldiers, three of them Americans, have been injured, mostly by mines.

At Tuzla air base in Bosnia, two columns of soldiers stood at attention Sunday before U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization flags as Dugan's casket was loaded onto a plane and flown to Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

President Clinton on Sunday telephoned Dugan's widow, Mimi, who lives in Germany, to personally express his condolences.

Dugan had been in the Army since 1978. "He definitely liked the military," his brother, John, said in a telephone interview. "But don't get me wrong: He wasn't a Rambo type. He was a model soldier."

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 from high school with him in 1975. "He got along with everybody."

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