"G.I. Jew" remembered
Lisa J. Huriash/Sun-Sentinel
PARKLAND -- Daniel Agami's parents were surprised two years ago when he announced he was joining the Army.
They called him their beloved son. The military called him great promotional material and planned to have him appear in an advertising campaign. Because of his adherence to his faith, his fellow infantrymen affectionately called him "G.I. Jew."
Pfc. Agami, 25, was killed with four other soldiers in a Humvee on Thursday while patrolling Iraq. The Department of Defense announced Monday that he died of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near the vehicle.
Agami was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, in Schweinfurt, Germany. He will be buried today.
The Army notified his parents, who live in Parkland, on Friday. On Monday, they were in shock, dealing with the pain of the death of their son, who had spoken to them with passion about his mission overseas.
"He felt a responsibility to his country," said his father, Itzhak Agami.
"He was totally patriotic," said his mother, Beth Agami.
Lt. Col. Doug Maddox, the Army's casualty assistance officer, called Agami an "exemplary soldier."
"He will be receiving several awards — the Purple Heart, Army commendation medal, Bronze Star — that will be presented to the family at the funeral," Maddox said.
Born in Ohio, Agami came to South Florida with his family when he was 4 and lived in several cities in Broward, including Coconut Creek, Margate and, most recently, Coral Springs and Parkland. He attended the Hebrew Academy Community School, in Margate.
He told his parents how in the Army, many of his comrades from the Midwest had never met a Jew.
In a speech to Chabad-Lubavitch of Greater Boynton Beach when he visited home during Passover, he told congregants how he went to Fort Benning, Ga., for basic training and quickly found that "many meals involved pork," which Jews who keep kosher are not allowed to eat.
"But the drill sergeant was very accommodating to me," he added.
Agami said he faced "bloody battles with insurgents. I go on daily or nightly missions raiding Iraqi homes to find weapons and bombs. … The deaths of my friends have been traumatic. I lost six of my closest friends. … America fights for freedom and survival for the souls of the entire world."
His parents said they haven't slept well since he went off to war, but they never really thought anything could happen to one of their two cherished sons.
"You don't want to believe it will ever happen to your own," said Beth Agami. "On TV, it's one soldier here, five soldiers here. But you go, 'It's not going to be my kid.'"
On Monday, as the Agamis nursed their heartbreak, U.S. flags decorated the potted plants in the front lawn and their mailbox.
"He loved to party," said Itzhak Agami. "He was quick with the jokes. He had 10,000 friends, and 10,000 friends thinking he was their best friend."
Staff Researcher Barbara Hijek contributed to this report.