Columbia soldier killed in Iraq known for charm, audacity

Sunday, August 31, 2008 | 4:04 p.m. CDT; updated 8:23 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, September 2, 2008

According to Army Major Mike Humphreys, Spc. Steven Fitzmorris was wearing body armor and was shot from the side through the shoulder where the armor does not cover. Humphreys also noted that the soldier provided incomplete contact information, which delayed notification of the family.

He was the kind of guy who lived on impulse.

It was his impulse for adventure that made him, at age 18, join the carnival. Granted it was a mere two-week endeavor, but he had to try it.

It was his impulse for determination that made him persuade his stepfather to buy him an old car, just to see if he could fix it. He didn't manage to fix that "small, dinky, blue car," said his sister, Michaela Fitzmorris, but he had to try.

Steven Fitzmorris, 26, was killed in action in Baghdad on Monday, Aug. 25, while serving his country. He lived in Columbia with his wife, Samantha Fitzmorris, 22, and his son, 3, and daughter, 2. He served in A Battery, 329th Field Artillery, as an E-4 and was stationed in Fort Carson, Colo.

Every adventure Steven had, as his mother, Rosemarie Fitzmorris-Currier recalled, seemed to end the same way: with Steven saying, "Could you come get me?" He called from the carnival and from his old car after it had broken down. This week, Steven's family is doing "the ultimate come-and-get-me-mom," Rosemarie said.

According to Steven's stepfather, Michael Currier, Steven was shot "while going to make friendly with Iraqis." It was supposed to be a safe mission in a safe area. He didn't get his body armor because he was told he wouldn't need it.

Steven hadn't always wanted to be a soldier. But one day, Steven came home and said, "I joined the military."

Given Steven's impulsive nature, this decision made perfect sense. The military fit all he wanted to do.

It fit his adventurous impulse, his love of traveling, his camaraderie, his loyalty. But most of all, it was something important to him.

"Steven always did what he thought was important to be done and took care of those important to him," Rosemarie said. He had told his family that "no one else could do it better than he could," Rosemarie added.

Rosemarie smiled thinking of her son's ego. He was complex and multidimensional, she said, and was different things to different people.

"If 15 people were asked to describe him, they would give you 15 different adjectives," Rosemarie said. "He was just Steve." On this, the whole family seemed to agree.

Steven's impulses sometimes got him in trouble, his family recalled, but his charm is what always got him out of it.

Yet another impulse drove him to sell magazine subscriptions door to door, travelling by bus and seeing the country. He just had to try it. And it's a good thing he did, considering that is how he met his wife.

"He could sell ice to an eskimo and make Ebeneezer Scrooge laugh," his sister Michaela said. Selling magazines was nothing.

"His eyes would twinkle," Rosemarie said, describing her son's charm. "Even when he was mad, his eyes would be smiling at you."

It was hard to stay angry with him, she said. He was a charmer and a comic.

To his friends and to his family, Steven was loyal. If someone needed him, he would find a way to be there, Rosemarie said. And the loyalty was mutual.

"If you were a friend of his, you would go to the end of the world for him," Rosemarie said.

Currier, Steven's stepdad, said there is one thing that hurts more than anything else: the family was not notified of Steven's injury until at least 24 hours after it happened.

They found out he had lived through his surgery and was alive for at least a full day afterward. By the time his family was informed of what had happened, Steven was dead. Steven's family said they can't help but wonder what would have happened if they had been able to talk to him in the hospital.

Fitzmorris will be honored Sunday morning as his body returns home to Columbia. Memorial Funeral Home has invited the public to come to Columbia Regional Airport to show their support, sympathy and patriotism, as well as follow the family in procession to the funeral home.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 2, at Memorial Funeral Home, 1217 Business Loop 70 W., followed by an internment with full military honors at Memorial Park Cemetery.


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