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John Tlumacki/Globe staff
For two families in Massachusetts, the war in Afghanistan has cost them their loved ones.
Vasselian family photo
Erin Vasselian said she knew there was a possibility that her high school sweetheart, Sergeant Daniel Vasselian, could be killed in action, "but I never, ever thought it would happen to him."
When the three-deployment veteran was sent to Afghanistan in September, "he felt different about this [one]. He mentioned it to all of us," Erin said.
A sniper's bullet on Dec. 23 made the 27-year-old Abington woman a widow.
David L. Ryan/Globe Staff
Less than two weeks earlier, Rolando and Lisa Rodriguez's 19-year-old son Lance Corporal Matthew Rodriguez had been killed when the armored vehicle he was driving struck a roadside bomb.
When Matthew (left) boarded a plane to begin his service, his father offered three pieces of advice: "Take care of your buddies, do your job well, and don't be a hero."
Erin Vasselian cradled her husband's Purple Heart.
The two families choose to look past the irony that these Marines died at a time when US forces have moved from combat operations to an advise-and-assist mission. Pictured: Daniel Vasselian
"I wish we hadn't still been there, but we were and we are," Lisa Rodriguez said. Pictured: Matthew's belongings in the family's Fairhaven home.
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