Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

April 23, 2007

Monterey soldier killed in Afghanistan

Flags were already flying half-staff in and around Monterey for other national tragedies when news was received last Friday that another young soldier had laid down his life for his country. This time, the news, like a bomb, hit close home. Sgt. Alex Van Aalten, 21, son of Susan and Ed Van Aalten, of East Cove Road, and husband of Shauna Van Aalten, had stepped on a land mine in Afghanistan and was killed, his family was told. The Van Aaltens live in a section of Cumberland Cove that lies inside Cumberland County. Alex attended Pleasant Hill Elementary School but transfered to Cookeville High School who had a ROTC program at the time.

It was early Friday morning in America, while we all slept safely, that Sgt. Van Aalten paid the supreme sacrifice in another part of the world. It was later in the morning, after everyone had gone to work, that the U.S. Army reached family members and broke the sad news. His mother was at work at Horner Rausch, his father at the law offices of Cameron & Young and his wife at Premier Medical Center. They were all told to meet at his wife’s workplace for the dreaded visit from an army chaplain and another officer.

“He was a real soldier,” his mother recalled. “He believed in his country and he believed in God.”

Sgt. Van Aalten, a soldier in the 82nd Airborne, had been on his second tour of duty when he was killed. He had already served a tour of duty in Iraq, up near the Syrian border. The young sergeant would have been in the Army for three years if he lived until June. His mother said that he had re-enlisted a couple of months ago after being back in the States for a year. “He wasn’t upset about going back,” she said.

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