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Plymouth soldier killed with 2 others in Afghan explosion

Attended wedding of sister in Aug.

By Taylor M. Miles
Globe Correspondent / September 30, 2011

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A 24-year-old Plymouth soldier died yesterday in Afghanistan in an explosion that also killed two others and left one critically injured, family members said.

Specialist Steven Gutowski, who was with the 515th Engineer Company (Sapper), had been stationed in Afghanistan since February and was killed when an explosive device detonated, according to his mother, Joan Gutowski.

He had made a trip home on leave last month for his sister’s wedding, Joan Gutowski said.

Family members described Gutowski as an incredibly caring son, brother, and cousin, who valued his family above all else, and loved working with youth.

“He lived for his family,’’ his mother said. “He couldn’t wait to come home and just sit and be with us.’’

His mother and sister Cheryl, 27, said he was looking forward to coming home and was starting to seriously consider becoming a police officer.

He was thinking of taking the civil service exams upon his return to the United States next spring.

But if that did not work out, he wanted to return to working with youth, as he did at a recreation center in Plymouth prior to leaving for Afghanistan.

He strived to set an example for his younger cousins, his mother said.

He was the middle of three children, with two sisters.

His mother joked that he was her favorite son.

“We actually put that in his yearbook,’’ she said.

Specialist Gutowski graduated in 2005 from Plymouth North High School, where he played several sports, including football and track, and then attended classes at Cape Cod Community College before deciding to join the US Army in 2008. He was based at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.

William Hallisey Jr., chairman of Plymouth’s Board of Selectmen, said it was a very tragic day for the town.

“The town is obviously shocked by this, and . . . our prayers go out to the family and relatives of this young man,’’ Hallisey Jr. said.

The family will fly to Dover, Del., this morning to receive his body in a formal Army procession, Joan Gutowski said.

She said she did not know when they would hold a funeral, but that it would be in Plymouth.

“Everybody is seriously feeling a hole in their soul with this loss, nobody can believe it,’’ said Gutowski’s sister Cheryl.

Taylor Miles can be reached at tmiles@globe.com.