Alexander Van Aalten – Sergeant, United States Army

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Release


DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Sergeant Alexander Van Aalten, 21, of Monterey, Tennessee, died April 20, 2007, in Sangin, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when a land mine detonated near his unit during combat operations. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Click Here For A Tribute To Sergeant Van Aalten

Sept. 2, 1985 — April 20, 2007


Sergeant Alexander van Aalten, 21, of the Cumberland Cove community near Monterey, Tennessee, died during combat operations in Afghanistan on Friday, April 20, 2007. Funeral services were conducted April 29 at Trinity Assembly in Algood, with the Rev. Mike Campbell officiating. Private interment services will be held at a later date.

Sergeant van Aalten was born September 2, 1985, in Orlando, Florida, the son of Edward “Ed” and Susan Stokes van Aalten of Monterey.

He was a 2004 graduate of Cookeville High School and was the brigade commander for the ROTC. He earned his Black Belt in Karate and was a Karate instructor with Jack Scott United Karate Studio.

In June 2004, he joined the U.S. Army, entered basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia, and served as a gunner on a Humvee in Iraq in 2005. At the time of his death, he was a Sergeant with the 82nd Airborne 1-508 PIR (Parachute Infantry Regiment) Delta Company at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

In addition to his parents, he is survived by his wife, Shana Sorrell van Aalten (whom he married May 28, 2005); brother, Dax van Aalten of New York, New York; sister, Corporal Nicole van Aalten of El Paso, Texas (Fort Bliss); maternal grandfather, Herman Stokes of Monterey; paternal grandmother, Willa van Aalten of Brandon, Florida; father-in-law, David (Kellie) Sorrell; and mother-in-law, Connie (Tim) Stinson, all of Sparta, Tennessee.

He was preceded in death by his maternal grandmother, Ella May Fowler Stokes; and paternal grandfather, Edward van Aalten Sr.

Active pallbearers were the 82nd Airborne Honor Guard.

A memorial fund in the name of Sergeant Alexander van Aalten has been established at U.S. Bank.

A former Monterey resident was killed during a second tour to Afghanistan after he stepped on a mine, according to his family.

The family of Sergeant Alex Van Aalten, 21, with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, was notified April 20, 2007, of the incident in the Kandahar region of Afghanistan, where he was stationed.

Van Aalten’s mother Susan said the family learned of what happened while they were at work.

She said her son had been in Afghanistan since January and was scheduled to be there for 15 months. He wasn’t able to give many details about what he was doing, but she said she believes he was involved in a large ongoing offensive operation.

Van Aalten also served in Iraq in 2005, when he was a gunner on a Humvee, his mother said.

Van Aalten, who attended Cookeville High School, was born in Orlando, Florida, but spent much of his life in Monterey, located about 95 miles east of Nashville.

His mother and father, Ed Van Aalten, now live in Cumberland Cove, and his wife Shana lives in Sparta. He and his wife had been married for about two years, his mother said.

Van Aalten’s mother said he signed up for the Army after graduating from high school and went to basic training at Fort Benning in Georgia. He was then assigned to the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

June would have marked his third year in the Army, and two weeks ago, Van Aalten signed up to serve for another six years, his mother said.

“He loved serving his country,” she said. “He just was a really good person. He loved being in the Army. He believed in what he was doing.”

A 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division Soldier was honored Wednesday at the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery where veterans from wars past and present are entombed.

Sergeant Alexander Van Aalten, an infantryman with the “All American” division, was posthumously presented the Netherlands Decoration of Merit of the Minister of Defense in Gold before the Van Aalten family and members of the division. Dutch Minister of Defense Eimert Van Middelkoop presented the award to Van Aalten’s wife – Shana, inside the museum where the names of valiant Soldiers of the past are scribed on the walls for history.

“Here we remember the brave Sergeant Alexander Van Aalten, who gave his life in Afghanistan serving his country, striving for peace and helping his Dutch colleagues,” said Van Middelkoop.

Van Aalten, a Cookeville, Tennessee, native was attempting to recover a Dutch soldier who died in a mine field on April 20, where he also would suffer that same fate.


Sergeant Alexander van Aalten returned home Friday. His body was carried by an honor guard from the plane that landed at the Upper Cumberland Regional Airport in Sparta Friday. Sergeant. van Aalten was killed in action in Afghanistan April 20, 2007.
Funeral services were held Sunday in Algood.


Photo Courtesy of Christine Koch, 3 March 2010. Alexander Was A Member of Christine's Son's (Steven) Unit
And She Pays Tribute To Him When She Visits Steven At Arlington National Cemetery. The pink rose on the left was
placed by Christine when she visited Arlington on the occasion of the second anniversary of her son's death.

DATE OF BIRTH: 09/02/1985
DATE OF DEATH: 04/20/2007




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