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Served 'so that others could be free'

ARLINGTON, Va. –

Army Staff Sgt. John Linde last talked to his wife on Saturday, Nov. 3.

"He sounded like he missed home, missed the family," said his wife, Vilma, according to newspaper reports. "He was able to speak with his daughter. We were able to tell each other we loved each other. Then, on Monday, they told me he was gone."

Linde and three other military police officers from the 10th Mountain Division were killed Nov. 5 by a roadside bomb in the northern Iraqi town of Tal Al-Dahab. He was buried on Monday at Arlington National Cemetery.

Image: Decorated Staff Sargeant Killed In Iraq Is Buried At Arlington
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Victoria Linde, 8, comforts her sister Erica during a burial service for her father, Staff Sgt. John Linde, at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday. Also pictured are Linde's widow Vilma Linde and father John W. Linde. 

"He served to the point of death so that others could be free," Chaplain (Maj.) Gary Studniewski told several hundred mourners, including Linde's widow and daughters Victoria and Erica, on a gray, raw morning.

Linde was an outdoorsman who enjoyed hunting, fishing, and racing ATVs while growing up in New Jersey and New York.

"I just never considered myself any kind of a great father," his dad told News10Now. "But other people tell me I must have been because he came out so good."

Linde enlisted in the Army in 1996. He completed one tour in Iraq in which he received a Bronze Star for fighting off an attack on a convoy. A neighbor said Linde was not looking forward to his second tour.

"He said he was lucky the first time, to say the least," the neighbor told the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin. "I just wish his luck had held out the second time."

Linde would have turned 31 on Nov. 11, Veterans Day.

(Linde was the 397th Iraq casualty to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. At least the next three Arlington burials are private, so the 400th Iraq burial will be closed to the press.)