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Marine Sgt is First US Woman Soldier to Die in Afghanistan

A woman from the Chicago area was among the seven U.S. Marines killed in Pakistan Wednesday when their tanker plane crashed into a mountain. She is the first woman among the U.S. forces killed in the Afghanistan campaign.

Twenty-five-year-old Marine Sgt. Jeannette Winters grew up in Gary, Indiana. She graduated from high school in 1995, and went to college. Her father, Matthew Winters, said once in college, she decided on a career path that took her into the U.S. military. "When she was in college, she said, 'Dad, I want to do something else.' She passed the test to get into the Marine Corps," he said. "She was very proud. She was the happiest she could be. She loved her job."

Her high school track coach, David Walton, remembered Sgt. Winters as a determined young woman, a lady of honor and respect. He said she would occasionally run extra races when the team needed her to, even when she was already in pain. "She kind of surprised me when she first told me she was going to the Marines because she was in college," he said. "She decided to leave college, join the Marines and serve the country. Then, to go for a second tour, that is something you can expect from her."

Sgt. Winters joined the Marines in 1997, and worked as a radio operator. Her older brother is also a Marine. Her father, Matthew, says the last time he spoke to his daughter was just before Christmas. "'I won't be home for Christmas,' she said, 'but I am going to send you a box.' She got me a guitar for Christmas," he said.

Mr. Winters says he plans to hang that guitar on a wall in the family home in Indiana.