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Vt. guardsman shot to death in Iraq

MONTPELIER -- Vermont National Guard Sergeant Chris S. Chapin, 39, of Proctor, was killed in action yesterday near Ramadi, Iraq, the National Guard said.

Chapin was shot while distributing election information, the Guard said.

A US Marine was killed in the same attack.

Chapin was a member of the 3rd Battalion, 172nd Mountain Infantry Regiment. In Iraq, he was part of Task Force Saber, a group of about 400 Vermont Guard members who arrived last month.

Chapin volunteered to go to Iraq. He had served for nine months in Afghanistan, returning to Vermont about a year ago, said Guard spokeswoman Lieutenant Veronica Saffo.

Chapin was working at a polling place in Tammin, distributing polling information when he was shot by a sniper.

"The shot went through his heart," said Major General Martha Rainville, the head of the Vermont National Guard. "Even though the medics tried valiantly to revive him -- they medivaced him immediately -- he died shortly thereafter."

Rainville said Chapin joined the National Guard in 1984 and served in the active duty military for a time, including service during the Gulf War of 1991. He returned to the National Guard in 1993.

Before being sent to Iraq, Chapin had been working for the guard full time.

Chapin was the fourth Vermont National Guard soldier to be killed in action in Iraq. A fifth guardsman died of natural causes in Kuwait.

Overall, 17 service members with Vermont connections have died in support of the war in Iraq.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time. All of Vermont joins them in mourning this tragic loss," said Jason Gibbs, spokesman for Governor James Douglas.

Chapin leaves his wife, Paula, and a son.

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