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MN Guard soldier dies in Iraq, apparently of heart attack

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(AP) - A Minnesota National Guard soldier who died at Camp Adder in Iraq was found in his room in his barracks after apparently suffering a heart attack or aneurysm.

      The National Guard announced the death of Sgt. Maj. Michael Mettille, 44, of West St. Paul, on Friday.

      A note, signed by Principal Mary Bowman, was sent home with students of Somerset Elementary School in Mendota Heights, where Mettille's third-grade son is a student. The note said the cause of death was thought to be a heart attack or aneurysm.

      Daughter Elizabeth Mettille, of Ames, Iowa, said the family was notified of his death on Thursday. Survivors also include his wife, Pam, three other children and his parents.

      Mettille, who had been with the Guard for more than 26 years, was serving as the company first sergeant with soldiers of the Brooklyn Park-based A Co., 134th Brigade Support Battalion.

      Mettille was an organizer for Operation Uplink, which worked with the Veterans of Foreign Wars to provide phone cards for soldiers to call home.

      Elizabeth Mettille said her father was home for a brief leave in December and told her how much he loved being a soldier.

      "I was really proud of him, and I enjoyed hearing about all the good things he did for people," she told the Star Tribune.

      She said her father looked exhausted during his home visit, as though stress was wearing on him. He counseled soldiers on issues ranging from the traumas of war to career paths and rarely talked about his own problems, she said.

                   (Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)