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Mississippi woman killed in Iraq

Marine Lance Corp. Casey Casanova is remembered as a kindhearted woman who sang like an “angel,” loved to dance and was looking forward to getting married when she returned from Iraq.

The 22-year-old McComb native died Friday in a roadside bombing, her family said. She is thought to be the first woman from Mississippi killed in combat in Iraq.

“She was the sweetest, most well-liked, smartest person you’d ever want to know. She had a beautiful voice. She loved to sing. She loved to line dance,” said Casanova’s grandmother, Kitty Carruth. “Her music instructor said that the voice of an angel is gone. That’s how she was described by him.”

Casanova was one of four Marines who died in the bombing in the western Anbar province, her family said. The military has not released details of the attack.

“She was a kindhearted, gentle person. Didn’t have an enemy in the world. She made friends with everyone,” said grandfather John Carruth. “She’s going to be missed for the rest of our lives. We’ll never forget her.”

Casanova attended Bass Memorial Academy in Lumberton before going to Southwest Mississippi Community College, where she played drums in the band and sang, Kitty Carruth said. She also sang with her church and was honored to sing the national anthem at Marine functions.

Casanova joined the Marines two years ago and thought the military would be a good way to help find her place in the world, Kitty Carruth said.

“We tried to get her to join the Air Force or Navy where we thought she would be safer, but she said she was going to make up her mind herself,” Kitty Carruth said. “She wanted to join the Marines and that’s what she decided.”

Casanova fell in love with another Marine and was looking forward to getting married after her deployment. She was scheduled to come home in September.

Her body is expected to arrive in Mississippi on Thursday, her family said. Funeral arrangements were incomplete.

Casanova is one of more than 60 military members with strong ties to Mississippi killed in Iraq or Afghanistan since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.