American Killed in Iraq Was Set to Marry

The Associated Press
Friday, January 19, 2007; 9:44 PM

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Andrea Parhamovich was fully in control of her impending engagement, detailing the ring she wanted as well as helping to plan the formal engagement trip _ Paris, Valentine's Day.

Parhamovich was killed in an ambush in Baghdad, and the Newsweek reporter in Baghdad who planned to marry her said Friday she had e-mailed him just last week with specifications for the ring.

"We were going to formalize everything," said 26-year-old Michael Hastings, recalling that Parhamovich's ring finger was a size 6.

They had been dating for about two years and wanted to travel to Paris in February so he could propose on Valentine's Day, but the trip had to be postponed until March because of logistics and work demands, he said.

Parhamovich, 28, an activist with the Washington-based National Democratic Institute, died Wednesday in an ambush on her convoy as it traveled through one of Baghdad's most dangerous neighborhoods. An al-Qaida-linked coalition of Iraqi Sunni insurgents claimed responsibility for the attack.

"Andi's desire to help strangers in such a dangerous environment thousands of miles away might be difficult for others to understand, but to us, it epitomized Andi's natural curiosity and unwavering commitment," her family said in a statement Thursday.

Brother-in-law Joe Zampini said at a news conference Friday that Parhamovich didn't talk much about her experiences in Iraq.

"We knew it wasn't a safe place. But she was really strong and I think she wanted to shield us from that," said Zampini, who is married to Parhamovich's sister, Marci.

Three security contractors from Hungary, Croatia and Iraq also were killed in the attack, and two other people were wounded.

Parhamovich, a graduate of Marietta College in southeast Ohio, had been working with NDI in Baghdad since late 2006. She helped Iraqi political parties reach out to voters.

"She didn't agree with the war, but she felt that now that we're here, she wanted to do what she could to help the Iraqis," Hastings said in a telephone interview. "She wasn't afraid of taking risks."

She was especially frustrated by the extreme security measures and limited movements employed by foreigners to avoid Baghdad's dangers, he said, and she was very excited about participating in a democracy program outside the Green Zone. The ambush occurred after the event, according to the NDI.

"It was one of her first trips out," Hastings said. "She was really excited, but she knew about the dangers."

NDI said Parhamovich, of Perry, Ohio, was helping "build the kind of national level political institutions that can help bridge the sectarian divide and improve Iraqi lives."

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad condemned the attack.

"The young American who was killed in this attack along with her security team exemplified a commitment by all those who have never wavered in their resolve to build a stable, united and democratic Iraq," he said in a statement.

Comedian and radio show host Al Franken, who worked with Parhamovich at the liberal radio company Air America for about 18 months, said he was devastated by her death.

"She was a thoroughly charming, intelligent, funny, idealistic, dedicated young woman," he said. "It was just great being in her presence because you felt like you were in the presence of a really good person, a real American."

Matthew Hiltzik, president of Freud Communications Inc. in New York, was Parhamovich's boss when she worked for film company Miramax about four years ago. The two remained close friends.

Parhamovich wanted to work on spreading democracy in Iraq for about a year, then use that experience to perhaps work with a presidential candidate on foreign affairs, Hiltzik said. A run for Congress also was in her dreams.

Parhamovich was an avid Cleveland Indians and Browns fan who had a fondness for the underdog. "She always felt for Marty Schottenheimer," Hiltzik said.

She named their fantasy football team after the San Diego Chargers coach, the most successful in the NFL to never have reached the Super Bowl.


Associated Press writers Connie Mabin and M.R. Kropko in Cleveland contributed to this report.

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