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Sometimes war produces unexpected reunions. But Sgt. Christopher Krussell found himself reunited with a cousin he didn’t know he had.

Krussell, 34, of Chicago, is a division artillery sergeant for the 1st Infantry Division. Shortly after he stepped off the plane in Camp Wolverine, Kuwait, last weekend, a buddy told him, “Hey, there’s a guy over there with the same name as you.” Since his name is uncommon, he strolled over to meet the fellow.

It didn’t take long to learn that he and Spc. Douglas Krusell’s roots both led to Petoskey, Mich., a town on the upper coast of the Lower Peninsula. Douglas Krusell’s grandparents, Don and Gloria, are Christopher Krussell’s great aunt and uncle. (Their families’ names are spelled differently because of a long-ago recording error.)

Krussell said he’d met his cousin’s father as a child, but hadn’t been in recent touch and wasn’t aware he had a son in the Army. He learned that Krusell had just finished a year in Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division and was heading home to see his family.

They exchanged e-mail addresses and took a photo together before heading off their separate ways.

“I had just been in country a couple of hours, and he was leaving in a couple of hours,” Krussell said later. “It was a little strange, almost like there was a purpose for me to be here, so we could get together.”

Belt it out on Bataan

Navy Airman Abidah Snyder, 22, might work on the flight deck of the USS Bataan, but she dreams of hitting it big as a singer.

When she was younger and her military father was deployed, she used to sing to the radio.

“I had to occupy myself so I tuned in to the radio and sang,” Snyder said.

She wants to go on the TV show “American Idol.” But since she’s on a deployment anchored to the ship, she sings on Karaoke Night aboard the Bataan. She is one of more than a dozen sailors and Marines who belt out their favorite tunes in the mess deck every other weekend.

Some of the singers wowed the nearly 200 sailors and Marines, most of whom came only to watch. The others, well, they should probably stick with their day job.

“After working so many hours, you can just relax and have fun,” Airman Trish Sweeney said. “And everybody can show off their talent.”

Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Smith got some hoots and hollers with his country twang.

“I love to sing,” he said after performing. “I’m from Nashville, Tennessee. What would you expect?”

Red hearts and races

BALAD, Iraq — If you can’t be with the one you love, get in shape so they will appreciate you when you get back.

That is the attitude of 300 U.S. soldiers at LSA Anaconda, who devoted Valentine’s Day morning to a 5-kilometer fun run at the logistics support area.

Many soldiers ran in fancy dress such as T-shirts covered in playing cards or a large teddy bear tied to a belt. Cupid was there, pulled along in a small cart by a group of soldiers.

The run’s organizer, Airman 1st Class Kenneth Marcum, of the 332nd Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron, handed out prizes after the race.

Marcum said sports events are only held during the day at Camp Anaconda because of mortar attacks at night.

Competitor Staff Sgt. Shiloh Yard got into the spirit of the event, painting her face and body with red hearts.

“We were just doing it for fun and at a slow pace,” said Yard, who was disappointed not to receive any Valentine’s Day cards this year.

Sgt. Anna Rhodes of the 109th Medical Battalion ran in a scrub top covered in red hearts, proudly displaying her home state of Iowa on her shirt.

Rhodes said she got plenty of Valentine’s Day cards — from Iowa elementary schoolchildren who made them for soldiers this year.


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