LYNNWOOD – Marine Cpl. Steven A. Rintamaki of Lynnwood died Thursday in Iraq, the Department of Defense announced Saturday.
Rintamaki, 21, was killed in action in Anbar province.
His mother, Myra Rintamaki, reached at home Saturday afternoon, said the family had just finished three television interviews and did not wish to speak with any more reporters that day.
“I sort of got numb to the idea that anything was going to happen, we talked so often. He said he had lots of close calls, but he said he was going to be all right,” his sister, Tiarrah Rintamaki, told KIRO 7 reporter Shannon Brinias.
In a letter written the day before he died, Rintamaki told his youngest sister that he had grown into the man he wanted to be and was at peace with himself.
“He’s my brother, you know… like a father figure to me, big brother, being protective and stuff,” Tiarrah Rintamaki told KING-TV.
Steven Rintamaki had volunteered for duty in Iraq. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force based in Camp Pendleton, Calif.
On Thursday, three U.S. Marines assigned to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force were killed by hostile fire in separate incidents in Anbar province while conducting security operations, the military said. One Marine died at the scene and the two others died later of their wounds. No other details were released.
Iraq’s western Anbar province remains the most deadly place for U.S. forces in the country. Anbar, the central part of the so-called Sunni Triangle, contains the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah, bastions of resistance to the U.S.-led war effort.
As of Friday, 1,027 members of the U.S. military had died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to the Defense Department. Of those, 777 died as a result of hostile action and 250 died of nonhostile causes. The figures include three military civilians.
Since May 1, 2003, when President Bush declared aboard the Everett-based USS Abraham Lincoln that major combat operations in Iraq had ended, 889 U.S. military members have died – 668 as a result of hostile action and 221 of nonhostile causes, according to the military’s numbers on Friday.
The Associated Press, Herald writers Yoshiaki Nohara and John McCartney, and Herald news partner KIRO 7 Eyewitness News contributed to this story.