Chicago soldier killed in Baghdad

February 24, 2008 7:39:21 PM PST
A soldier from Chicago has been killed while serving in Iraq. Twenty-year-old Albert Bitton was killed in Baghdad on Tuesday when his Humvee was hit by an explosive device.

Bitton served as a medic in Iraq. He joined the Army after graduating from high school with hopes of receiving the training and financial help to someday become a surgeon.

There were major changes in Albert Bitton's life last fall. He was married in August and was scheduled to head out to Iraq in October. But, before that trip he visited his former high school in uniform, where he talked about his plans to return one day and become a doctor.

Friends and family are sharing their memories of the 20-year-old, a medic in the Army, who died Tuesday in Baghdad.

"Going and being a medic was something he believed in. It was something that was going to contribute to his future," said Tal Kohn, Bitton's friend.

The West Rogers Park native joined the Army in December of 2005 after finishing high school at Ida Crown Jewish Academy.

While there, Bitton got good grades, mostly A's, joined the wrestling team and he met the woman who would later become his wife. They married last fall before Bitton left for Iraq.

"I'm still not used to the fact I'm not gonna talk to him. My immediate reflex is to remember these things for the next time he calls," said Melissa Handleman, wife.

Bitton was scheduled to return home in January of next year. He ke

pt in touch with his family and friends via e-mail. "Towards the end, a lot of his friends said the emails coming from Iraq said he was having a tougher time; he put on a good face for his parents," said Rabbi Leonard Matanky, Ida Crown Jewish Academy.

On Tuesday, Bitton was killed when the Humvee he was in hit an improvised explosive device. His family says Bitton joined the Army not just for medical experience but because he was a patriot.

"He liked his country, he loved his country very much," said Elie Bitton, father.

Albert's father Elie and mother Sylvia have received condolences from friends as far away as Israel and Alaska. His body is expected to return to Chciago sometime his weekend and his funeral is planned for early next week.