Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Daniel J. Agami dies 'of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle'

Even before they learned officially that Daniel Agami was killed last week in Iraq, his friends just knew.

''It was really weird, that Thursday morning,'' said Agami's childhood friend, Josh Morales, 24. ``I saw the news that five soldiers were killed. I got this weird feeling -- and I got on MySpace and told him to send me an e-mail. We all had a weird feeling. For some reason, that particular day, it was almost as if we knew.''

Agami, known as Danny, was one of five soldiers killed Thursday when a bomb exploded near their Humvee in Baghdad. He was a graduate of Coconut Creek High School and was a private first class with the U.S. Army's 1st Infantry Division, based in Germany.

The 25-year-old soldier left behind dozens of childhood friends, as well as his immediate family in Parkland: parents Beth and Itzhak Agami, a 23-year-old brother, Ilan, and a 7-year-old sister, Shaina.

He was their handsome and muscular son and friend, a soldier who loved music and loved being a DJ, a young man whose disposition was so sunny that he walked through life without making any enemies.

''Everyone who met him just once, he was their best friend,'' said his grandmother, Sandy Becker of Coconut Creek. ``He had thousands and thousands of friends.''

Agami kept in touch with everyone on his MySpace Web page, where he displayed his zany sense of humor with dozens of pictures of him in combat -- and at play.

He ''was the sweetest boyfriend,'' said Gina Mulligan, and he called her every other day. He made sure to send her affectionate daily e-mails, too, even if they were just quick messages to say ``Hi, bye, I'm OK.''

Mulligan long ago stopped watching the news about Iraq -- it was too difficult. Agami was her soul mate, the schoolgirl crush who turned into a serious boyfriend 2 ½ years ago. He had been in Iraq for nearly a year.

''There was such a special connection,'' said Mulligan, 22. 'He was always happy, even in Iraq. He'd tell me, `Baby, it's OK, it's fine. Baby, I'm your warrior, I'm protecting you.' ''

For his family, it is an especially bittersweet time. They all spoke to Agami two weeks ago, at his brother's wedding. Agami wasn't able to return home in time for the celebration, but his family played a video that he had sent from Iraq. He also spoke to the guests over the phone.

''Everyone came in for the wedding,'' Becker said, ``and now they have to come back for the funeral.''

Most recently, Agami was based at Patrol Base Apache in Adhamiya, a neighborhood that an April 9 article in Newsweek magazine labeled as one of the deadliest in Baghdad.

That same article quoted Agami -- affectionately known as ''GI Jew'' by his unit -- as being skeptical of an Army plan to put more soldiers on foot patrol in the capital. It left them vulnerable, Agami told Newsweek.

''Walk out of here in the middle of the day without enough firepower and you have to retreat? Guess what, your whole platoon is f---ed,'' Agami told the magazine.

That was a typical tell-it-like-it-is statement from their friend, Morales said. He and others close to Agami had tried to talk him out of enlisting two years ago, but Agami believed it would make him a stronger leader and a more focused person, Morales said.

Yet they all worried about him. ''When he told us he was going back to the Army we were really upset,'' his friend Melissa De Tomasso said in an e-mail.

``But Danny told us that he was born to protect his country and that is what he was going to do. He truly is a hero and I wish everyone had the honor of knowing someone like Daniel Agami.''

From the Miami Herald