PFC Aaron James "A.J." Rusin, 19, an American soldier and hero killed in Iraq, on Sunday, Oct. 10, 2004. He was born Jan. 12, 1985, in Johnstown. He is survived by his parents, Sandra M. (Sapolich) Rusin and her fiance, James V. Sidola, of Johnstown, and Timothy J. Rusin and his fiancee, Pam Deemer, of Youngstown, Pa.; a brother, Adam E. Rusin (17), of Johnstown; grandmother, Agnes Marie Rusin, of Seward; aunts and uncles, Ted and Linda Rusin, Christopher and Janice Rusin, Joel and Jane Rusin, Jeff and Jerry Rusin, Margaret Kelly, Helen Golden, Terry and Jackie Sapolich and Mark and Toni Sapolich; numerous cousins, countless good friends, young and old alike, including Alex Gibson, Ricky Price and Jon Finnigan; and a very special friend and mentor, Bill Botti, whom Aaron knew from the age of 9. He was preceded in death by his maternal grandparents, Williams and Helen (Dezelon) Sapolich; and paternal grandfather, Edward Rusin. While growing up in New Florence, Aaron served as an altar boy at Holy Family Church. At the age of 12, he joined the Fairfield Township Fire Company as a junior firefighter and he helped out at the carnivals and wherever needed. He was also a member of the Boys Club. Aaron graduated from Laurel Valley School in Ligonier Valley School District, where he participated in a number of sports and was a member of the band. Aaron moved to Jackson Township, Cambria County, in August of 1999 with his mother and brother. He attended Central Cambria High School, where he was a member of the band, power weightlifted and lettered in track and football. Aaron graduated as an honor student. In this time he served as an altar server at St. John Vianney's Catholic Church in Mundys Corner and a firefighter with the Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Company. Aaron was employed at BiLo Supermarket in Vinco for two years before enlisting into the U.S. Army, with these words, "I'd rather go over there and fight than have them come over here. Mom, I want to defend my country." Friends will be received Thursday from 2 to 9 p.m. at the FRANCIS G. OZOG FUNERAL HOME INC., Broad Street, Johnstown. A funeral Mass will be celebrated Friday at 10 a.m. at Holy Family Catholic Church in Seward with the Rev. John Wilt as celebrant. A committal service will be held in Armagh Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the "Aaron Rusin Memorial Scholarship Fund", c/o Central Cambria High School, 204 Schoolhouse Road, Ebensburg, PA 15931.
Published by Tribune Review on Oct. 19, 2004.