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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 24, 2008

Sgt. Kitto comes home to open arms and sighs of relief

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

ALTAMONT — Sgt. Chris Kitto’s family is celebrating his return from Iraq and inviting the community to join them.

“We’re just so relieved he’s home and safe,” said his mother, Francine Kitto.

Sgt. Kitto, a decorated soldier, has completed his second year-long tour in Iraq, the end of his five-year enlistment with the United States Army. He is joining the Army National Guard.

He grew up in Altamont with his brother, Cory.

In 2001, at the beginning of his senior year at Guilderland High School, Kitto called his mother on the morning of Sept. 11 and told her he wanted to join the military.

“He was very affected by 9/11,” his father, Michael Kitto, told The Enterprise earlier. Both of his parents encouraged him to go to college instead but he was determined to fight for his country, they said.

A sniper, Sgt. Kitto twice finished in the top 10 at the International Sniper Competition.

Last year, Kitto was awarded the Soldier’s Medal, the Army’s highest non-combat award, given for voluntary risk of a soldier’s life not involving direct combat with an enemy.

According he the Military Awards branch of the Army, a total of 79 Soldier’s Medals — out of 281,227 medals given overall — had been awarded in Iraq as of last April, which is when the incident occurred.

Kitto was out on a night patrol in Iraq when his Humvee sank to the bottom of a river. Stuck upside down in the muddy riverbed, the five soldiers in the truck couldn’t open their doors for several minutes. Sgt. Kitto was the first to break through and swim up for air. He and Sgt. Michael Pesamoska each went back down to bring the remaining soldiers to the surface.

“We have three families that don’t have to go to a funeral,” said Mr. Kitto last spring. “I think that’s important.”

He also said that his son was less optimistic about his second tour than his first.

“He felt he really had a purpose,” Mr. Kitto said of his son’s first year in Iraq. On that tour, Sgt. Kitto used his own body to shield an Iraqi boy from an incoming mortar, saving the boy, his father said.

Because of shielding the boy, he has trouble hearing in one ear, but he felt the work he was doing was important, his parents said. The Iraqi boy’s parents invited him to a goat dinner to show their appreciation.

On his second tour, Sgt. Kitto became “disenchanted,” his father said; he had hoped there would be more improvement.


The reception for Sgt. Kitto will be held at the Boyd-Hilton Veterans of Foreign Wars Post in Altamont on Aug. 9 from noon to 2 p.m.

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