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Archive for Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Two Kansans killed in explosion

Soldiers among 4 who died disposing old rockets in Afghanistan

April 17, 2002

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— Two Kansas men were among four American soldiers killed Monday in Afghanistan as they attempted to dispose of old rockets.

Family members confirmed late Monday that Sgt. Jamie Maugans, 27, an ordnance disposal specialist stationed in San Diego, was killed while disposing of explosives near Kandahar.

A second Kansas soldier, Staff Sgt. Justin J. Galewski, 28, of Olathe, also died. Galewski is survived by a wife and two children, said Maj. Steve Stover of U.S. military public affairs.

Galewski's wife, Christine, heard from her husband just a few days ago after his birthday Friday.

"I feel very fortunate to have been with him," she told ABC's "Good Morning America" which had been following her for a story about military wives. "I want him to know that I'm going to be OK."

But she said the reality of her loss had not sunk in.

"I just keep feeling they're going to come through the door and say 'Sorry, we got the wrong one,"' Mrs. Galewski said.

Maugans' father, Bryce, said Tuesday his son's unit was deployed after the terrorist attacks, and his son had felt he was saving other soldiers as well as American civilians.

"He was a great son he was very proud of what he was doing in Afghanistan," he said.

His grandmother, Shirley Maugans of Wichita, said the family had been looking forward to Jamie Maugans returning home because he'd been overseas since November. He was not married and had no children, she said.

"He was a gentle man, from the time he was born," she said. "He was very sweet and kind."

The family last heard from Jamie in an e-mail on Easter, in which he said he'd be home in a month.

"He was hoping to go out and have a beer or two with me I was looking forward to that," his father said.

Family members grew worried Monday morning when they heard reports that the soldiers killed were ordnance officers.

"That was what he did, so we were waiting all day for him to get in touch and tell us he was all right," said Mary Maugans of Bel Aire, Jaime's stepmother.

Bryce Maugans and the soldier's mother, Kathy Wurdeman, learned of their son's death through a military officer who visited the family Monday afternoon, Mary Maugans said.

"He was a fine young man," she said. "He was very, very good at what he did and everyone was very proud of him."

Jamie Maugans graduated from Derby High School and attended Kansas University and Cowley County Community College before joining the Army. He had one brother and four sisters, all living in the Wichita area.

The soldiers' bodies arrived Tuesday at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany en route to the United States.

An honor guard and chaplains stood at attention as the C-17 cargo plane carrying the coffins taxied on the runway. Members of the honor guard saluted as others carried the flag-draped coffins down the plane's ramp to waiting hearses.

Officials couldn't immediately say when the soldiers' remains would arrive in the United States.

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