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Fallen Comrades Allied Forces


Captain Alex Eida, 2nd Lieutenant Ralph Johnson and Lance Corporal Ross Nicholls killed in Afghanistan
2 Aug 06
It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the deaths of Captain Alex Eida, 2nd Lieutenant Ralph Johnson and Lance Corporal Ross Nicholls in Afghanistan on Tuesday 1 August 2006.

Captain Alex Eida.
[Picture: MOD]
The soldiers were killed following an incident involving insurgent forces in northern Helmand Province on the morning of 1 August 2006. During the incident, a UK vehicle patrol was attacked by insurgents with rocket propelled grenades and heavy machine guns. The soldiers were all embarked in a tracked Spartan armoured reconnaissance vehicle, which was equipped with enhanced protection for operations in Afghanistan. A second vehicle immobilised in the incident was a Scimitar armoured reconnaissance vehicle, also equipped with enhanced protection.

Captain Alex Eida

Captain Alex Eida Royal Horse Artillery, 29, from Surrey, first saw military service with the Territorial Army whilst studying for his degree in Technology Business Studies at the University of Glamorgan. Though taken with the possibility of a military career, on completion of his degree his passion for travel and adventure training took him to Camp USA as an instructor, which he then followed with time as a ski rep and instructor in France.

However, he ultimately returned to the Army fold and attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, commissioning into the Royal Artillery on the conclusion of his course in April 2002. He then undertook his Young Officers’ course at the Artillery Centre, Larkhill. Throughout his initial training Capt Eida stood out from the crowd. Though extremely easygoing and self-effacing, he always displayed real enthusiasm and passion for his work, on the sports field, during adventure training and socially.

Moreover, beneath his relaxed exterior was a man with tremendous commitment and a positive attitude, all backed up by an impressive work ethic. This and his outstanding levels of fitness ensured his selection for an arduous appointment with 7 Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery which he joined in October 2002; a challenge which he relished.

Immediately his balanced maturity, professionalism and sense of fun had an impact. His light yet robust and effective command style, moral courage and enthusiasm earned him the respect and loyalty of all ranks and shone through in training and under the pressure of operations.

All these qualities were evident when he deployed in 2003 to Iraq during the initial war-fighting phase, when he was First Command Post Officer to fire the guns, then again during deployment to Kosovo in 2004 in the demanding covert surveillance role. 2006 saw him as a Forward Observation Officer in Afghanistan where his technical expertise, calm, diligent style and responsiveness not only endeared him to those who worked with him but also made a major contribution to the operation.

Capt Eida completed his whole Regular service with 7 Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery and within it he proved himself in the most demanding circumstances whilst maintaining his honour, focus, professionalism and balance. He was always prepared to go the extra mile for his soldiers who willingly did the same for him. As such he was not only popular with everyone but he was also universally admired and respected as a friend and colleague. He will be sadly missed by everyone that knew him.

Lieutenant Colonel David Hammond, his Commanding Officer, said:

"I and the Regiment knew captain Eida extremely well. He was a real character and personality who grew up as an officer amongst us and gave so much to the Regiment. His relaxed yet self-assured air of professionalism, his commitment to his vocation and his soldiers and his infectious enthusiasm earned him the respect of all those that knew him. We have lost a gifted young officer and friend who was a leading light of the unit and will be sadly missed. Most importantly our thoughts are with his family and many friends at this difficult time."

Capt Eida was single. His father Derek and mother Jenny issued the following statement:

"My wife and I and our daughters – Tamsyn and Bryony – were devastated by the news of Alex’s death in Afghanistan and are finding it extremely difficult to come to terms with. Our only consolation is that Alex enjoyed every minute of his life in the Army, in particular serving with 7 Para RHA, to which his passion for fitness, adventure and professionalism were ideally suited. We all loved him very much and will never forget him."

2nd Lt Ralph Johnson.
[Picture: MOD]
2nd Lieutenant Ralph Johnson

2nd Lieutenant Ralph Johnson, Household Cavalry Regiment, 24, who lived in Windsor, joined the Life Guards in August 2005 and established himself as a first class Troop Leader who led from the front.

Lieutenant Colonel Edward Smyth-Osbourne, Commanding Officer of the Household Cavalry Regiment, based in Windsor, said of him:

"He was brave, determined and thoroughly loyal to his soldiers and superiors. He excelled in training and quickly won the respect of the men who in turn showed absolute faith in his decisions and leadership. He was popular, quick witted and hugely enthusiastic. His innate energy enamoured him to all; particularly endearing was his devotion to his men and the time and effort he committed to them prior to their deployment.

"It was obvious to all that he adored his time in the Army. In Afghanistan he displayed real composure and huge professional competence in a novel, harsh and unforgiving environment – and it was typical that, during the early hours of 1 August, he was leading from the front when killed in an ambush in Northern Helmand.

"With his death the Household Cavalry Regiment has suffered the loss of an exemplary young officer and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."

2nd Lt Ralph Johnson was single.

Lance Corporal Ross Nicholls
[Picture: MOD]
Lance Corporal Ross Nicholls

Lance Corporal Ross Nicholls, 27, enlisted in Edinburgh into the Royal Corps of Signals in August 1995 and served with 216 Signals Squadron, part of 16 Air Assault Brigade. During that time he completed a number of operational tours including both Afghanistan and Iraq before transferring to the Blues and Royals in July 2004.

Lieutenant Colonel Edward Smyth-Osbourne, Commanding Officer of the Household Cavalry Regiment, based in Windsor, said:

"He embraced life with the Household Cavalry with gusto and enthusiasm serving with D Squadron on the Prairie in Western Canada and picking up his armoured trades with alacrity. Indeed his previous experience stood him in good stead and he established himself as a bright, professional and effective operator whose presence was a real asset to the Squadron.

"He volunteered to deploy to Afghanistan despite the fact he had decided to leave the Army and was serving as Lt Johnson’s operator when he was killed in an ambush during the early hours of the 1 Aug in Northern Helmand. With his death the Household Cavalry Regiment has suffered the loss of a talented soldier and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."

Lance Corporal Nicholls leaves behind a wife, Angela, a two year old son, Cameron, and a newborn baby girl named Erin, who live in central London.
One of the pioneers of IEDD in Northern Ireland.

Lieutenant-Colonel GeorgeStyles, who died yesterday aged 78, was awarded the George Cross in 1971 for leading ordnance disposal teams during the terrorist campaign in Northern Ireland and for personally dealing with extremely hazardous devices.

As the senior ammunition technical officer, Styles, then a major in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, was responsible for the supervision of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams dealing with the increasing number of explosive devices used in the terrorist campaign.

In September 1971 the first of what became known as IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) was discovered at Castlerobin, Co Antrim. In the course of trying to dismantle it, one of Styles's close colleagues was killed.

What the IEDs lacked in power they made up for in ingenuity, and it became clear that their main purpose was to kill EOD members who tried to disarm them. When, eventually, one of these devices was recovered intact, the radiograph showed microswitches at the top and bottom of the box so that if it was lifted, tilted or the lid opened, the bomb would explode.

Styles gave the order for an identical model to be built with a light bulb substituted for the detonator. He took this device home and worked on it in his kitchen until the bulb lit up. "I would have been dead," he said later. But something that a science teacher had said during a lesson years before came back to him and, after a long night, he believed that he had found a way to deal with the IEDs - at least in theory.

Article continues on the link.
Rest in Peace to all these brave warriors. The average guy/gal on the street has no idea of the sacrifice, dedication and committment it takes to serve your nation in uniform. My hat's off to each of these gallant soldiers who gave everything in the pursuit of freedom.

Private Andrew Cutts killed in Southern Afghanistan
7 Aug 06
It is with great regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of Private Andrew Barrie Cutts of 13 Air Assault Support Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps, in Musa Qualeh, northern Helmand province, on Sunday 6 August 2006.

Private Andrew Barrie Cutts
[Picture: MOD]
Private Cutts was killed in action at 1530 hours during an operation to disrupt Taliban forces.

In a statement on the day of the incident Defence Secretary Des Browne said:

"I was saddened to hear of the death today of a British soldier who was supporting the NATO mission in Afghanistan. This is a huge loss for his friends and family. My thoughts are with them.

"UK Forces are making a vital contribution to bringing security to the people of Afghanistan. Today's tragic incident underlines the challenges they face in carrying out this important task."

Private Andrew Barrie Cutts

Private Andrew Barrie Cutts, from Mansfield, was born on 8 January 1987 and enlisted into the Army in July 2003. Following basic training he was posted as a driver into 13 Air Assault Support Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps, based in Colchester.

Private Cutts deployed to Afghanistan on 11 March 2006 as part of the Regiment’s Force Protection Troop. This was formed from specially selected and highly trained soldiers within the unit and charged with the responsibility of providing firepower and protection for logistic support convoys delivering combat supplies to British troops in Helmand Province.

Andrew was immensely liked and respected by all those that knew him. He was a popular member of the troop who could always be relied upon to break the tension with a smile and a joke. A fit, highly skilled and diligent soldier with a quiet, unassuming manner, he was preparing himself for parachute selection on return to Colchester. He was a dedicated supporter of his local football team, Mansfield Town, but his real passion lay with his family of whom he talked regularly and with great fondness.

His Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Neale Jouques OBE RLC, expressed the views of the entire Regiment when he said:

"He died doing what he was good at, protecting his comrades. He was a brave and exemplary soldier. It is with enormous regret that the Regiment reports the loss of Private Cutts. Our thoughts and prayers are with Andrew’s family and girlfriend at this sad time."

From the Army Times early Bird Report:

Navy Loses First SEAL in Iraq War
Man Who Died Was Based At Coronado
(San Diego Union-Tribune, August 8, 2006)
A Coronado-based Navy SEAL died last Wednesday during the Iraq war's biggest battle between U.S. forces and insurgents in Ramadi, the Pentagon has announced. Petty Officer 2nd Class Marc Alan Lee was the first SEAL to be killed in Iraq since the war began in 2003. A native of Hood River, Ore., Lee, 28, was stationed at the Naval Amphibious Base at Coronado, Calif., where he received his special-operations training two years ago.

Lt Col George Styles, GC

Master bomb disposal officer who saved lives in Northern Ireland

Diana Condell
Wednesday August 16, 2006
The Guardian

On October 20 1971, George Styles, then a major in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC) and deputy assistant director of ordnance services in Northern Ireland, was called to the Europa hotel in the centre of Belfast to deal with an IED (or improvised explosive device) in a telephone booth in the hotel bar. The first of these IEDs, whose purpose appeared to be to wipe out the bomb disposal teams sent to deal with them, had been found at Castlerobin, County Antrim, the previous month and had killed one of Styles' colleagues.

Article continues


In order to deal successfully with such devices, and gather the forensic evidence the bomb-maker invariably left behind, it was crucial to recover an IED intact. When eventually this happened, it was discovered that the box containing the explosive had been booby-trapped. Micro switches at the top and bottom of the container meant that whichever way it was tilted, or the lid was lifted, the bomb would go off.
Styles, who has died aged 78, had a dummy made - with a light bulb substituted for the detonator - and after experimenting at home on the kitchen table was confident he had worked out how the device operated. Now, with the Europa hotel cordoned off, he and two other RAOC officers began the painstaking process of disarming the bomb. The first state involved disabling the electrical circuits, a task that took seven hours. Finally, he was able to get a line round the device, and in two moves pulled it some 50ft out on to the pavement.

Styles always refused to divulge his theory on how to deal with IEDs, but he later admitted that the Europa bomb had been a menacing experience. As he graphically put it, in that telephone booth there was "enough energy to blow your head from your shoulders, your arms and legs from your trunk and your trunk straight through the plate glass windows of the Europa".

Bomb-makers leave their "trademark" on the devices they produce, and Styles was fairly sure he both recognised the bomber and that he would have another try. As the unofficial headquarters for legions of journalists covering the Northern Ireland troubles, the 12-storey Europa was a prime target. And indeed, two days later, Styles was called back to the hotel, where a second bomb, containing nearly 40lbs of explosive had been found. Although this device had the same circuitry as the previous one, a mass of complex wiring and micro switches had been added. Also new was a chilling message written on the container, reading, "Tee-hee, hee-hee, ho-ho, ha ha". It took Styles and his team some nine hours to disarm and remove the bomb.

On January 11 1972 the award of the George Cross to Styles was announced. The official citation described him as displaying a "calm resolution in control, and a degree of technical skill and personal bravery in circumstances of great danger far beyond the call of duty". During his remaining service in Northern Ireland, he and his team dismantled more than 1,000 devices and destroyed an equal number by controlled explosions.

On leaving the province in 1972, Styles was promoted to lieutenant colonel, and subsequently appointed chief ammunition technical officer with responsibility for all RAOC bomb disposal teams both in the UK and abroad. After his retirement in 1974, he continued to use his expertise as an adviser to companies with interests in anti-terrorist measures. His book, Bombs Have No Pity, appeared in 1975.

Styles was born in Crawley, Sussex, and educated at Collyers grammar school, Horsham. Following his call-up for national service in 1946, he was commissioned into the RAOC. In 1949 he was selected for a regular commission and attached to the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, with whom he served in Malaya, where he was mentioned in dispatches. On his return to the UK he took an engineering degree from the Royal Military College of Science. Following another tour of duty in Malaya, in command of the 28th Commonwealth Brigade Ordnance Field Park, he was posted to Germany, from where he went to Northern Ireland in 1969.

Styles was an immensely likeable man with a rather droll sense of humour, who enjoyed shooting and collecting rare cartridge ammunition. He is survived by his wife Mary, whom he married in 1952, a son and two daughters.

· Stephen George Styles, bomb disposal expert, born March 16 1928; died August 1 2006


The Human Toll

Operation Iraqi Freedom

U.S. service members who died while supporting combat operations in Iraq, confirmed by the Defense Department from Sept. 8 to 14:

Army Spc. Alexander Jordan, 31, Sept. 10, Baghdad

Marine Cpl. Johnathan L. Benson, 21, Sept. 9, Anbar, Iraq

Army Pfc. Anthony P. Seig, 19,

Sept. 9, Baghdad

Marine Pfc. Vincent M. Frassetto, 21, Sept. 7, Anbar, Iraq

Army Sgt. Luis A. Montes, 22,

Sept. 7, Abu Ghraib, Iraq

Army Sgt. John A. Carroll, 26,

Sept. 6, Ramadi, Iraq

Army Pfc. Jeremy R. Shank, 18,

Sept. 6, Balad, Iraq

Army Lt. Col. Marshall A.

Gutierrez, 41, Sept. 4,

Camp Virginia, Kuwait

Army Sgt. Germaine L. Debro, 33, Sept. 4, Balad, Iraq

Army Pvt. Edwin A. Andino II, 23, Sept. 3, Baghdad

Army Sgt. Jason L. Merrill, 22,

Sept. 3, Baghdad

OIF casualty totals

Sept. 8-14

Killed: 9; Wounded in action: 168

March 19, 2003-Sept. 14

Killed: 2,664; Wounded in action: 20,113

Operation Enduring Freedom

U.S. service members who died while supporting combat operations in Afghanistan, confirmed by the Defense Department from Sept. 8 to 14:

Army Sgt. Jeremy E. DePottey, 26, Sept. 11, Asadabad, Afghanistan

Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael T. Fuga, 47, Sept. 9, Kandahar, Afghanistan

Army Sgt. Nathaniel B. Lindsey, 38, Sept. 9, Shajoy, Afghanistan

Army Sgt. 1st Class Merideth L. Howard, 52, Sept. 8, Kabul, Afghanistan

Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Paul, 43, Sept. 8, Kabul, Afghanistan

OEF casualty totals

Sept. 8-14

Killed: 4; Wounded in action: 30

Oct. 10, 2001-Sept. 14

Killed: 332; Wounded in action: 931


U.S. service members reported captured while supporting combat operations, confirmed by the Defense Department:

Army Staff Sgt. Keith M. Maupin, 23, April 9, 2004, Iraq

Editor’s note: Figures for service members killed usually do not match the number of names confirmed as combat deaths because of the time lag between a death and the public release of the name while next of kin are notified. For a comprehensive listing of U.S. troops who have died in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, including stories about individual service members and their families, visit Faces of Valor at www.militarycity .com/valor.


Two soldiers killed in helicopter crash identified

Associated Press

BERLIN — The U.S. Army on Thursday identified two American soldiers killed in a helicopter crash during a training mission in southern Germany.

Chief Warrant Officer Timothy R. Breneman and Chief Warrant Officer Terry M. Thomas, both of the 1st Armored Division’s 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, were killed in Tuesday night’s crash at the Grafenwoehr Training Area, the Army said.

Breneman, 36, was piloting the AH-64D Apache Longbow, and Thomas, 31, served as the co-pilot gunner.

Thomas died at the scene of the crash, and Breneman died nearly two hours later at the university hospital in Regensburg. The soldiers’ hometowns were not immediately available.

The crash occurred during routine training and the cause was under investigation, the Army said.


Cpl. Maj. Giuseppe Orlando  28years old    22nd Company, 2nd Alpine Regiment, Taurinense Alpine Brigade, Italian Army  born: Palermo, Italy      Died when his Puma armored vehicle accidentally overturned on a steep incline while on patrol in Chahar Asyab district, roughly 8 miles (13 km) south of Kabul, Afghanistan, on September 20, 2006

RAEME officer laid to rest
Volume 11, No. 52, September 21, 2006

At rest: Capt Paul Lawton
THE body of Capt Paul Lawton has been laid to rest with full military honours at a funeral service in Melbourne.

Capt Lawton, who was assigned to the Land 907 Tank Program, was escorting Abrams tanks from the United States to Melbourne on a civilian cargo vessel when he fell ill and died on August 31.

Capt Lawton joined the Australian Army on January 10, 1990. After service as an RASigs electrical technician, he entered ADFA in 1999, and was allocated to RAEME on completion of his officer training. Capt Lawton joined Land 907 in 2004 as the Maintenance Plans Officer for the new main battle tank. He had a passion for music, engineering and anything electronic.

Capt Lawton is survived by his partner, his daughter, mother, a brother and three sisters.

Soldier killed in Salisbury Plain accident named
25 Sep 06
It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of Private Michael Minns during a training accident on Salisbury Plain on Sunday 24 September 2006.

The incident, which occurred at Fowler Barracks (located between Tidworth and Ludgershall), is being treated as an industrial accident and a joint investigation is underway with the local police and the Health and Safety executive.

It would appear at this stage that the injuries were sustained whilst Pte Minns was carrying out routine checks of a vehicle prior to it being deployed on exercise. Her Majesty's coroner has been informed.

Private Michael Minns

Pte Michael Minns, 19, joined the Army in 2005. After completing his basic training he joined the Royal Logistic Corps serving as a Driver. In June 2006 he took up his first posting with 9 Supply Regiment RLC. He was based at Hullavington, in Wiltshire.

Lt Col Justin Stanhope-White, CO 9 Supply Regt, Royal Logistic Corps, said:

"Despite only having spent four months in the Regiment, Michael had become a very popular and much liked character. He had a happy-go-lucky personality and enjoyed socialising with his new comrades.

"He was a very keen soldier whose enthusiasm shone through. It was typical of his personality that he volunteered to represent his Squadron in an upcoming boxing competition, proving his selfless dedication and commitment, which he possessed in abundance.

"Michael was developing into a first rate soldier and had an undoubtedly bright future. His colourful character and ready banter will be sorely missed. Our heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathy are with his family and friends."


She was 52 when Afghan bomb struck
Merideth Howard, the oldest known woman to die in combat, was behind the gun of a Humvee

By Kim Barker and James Janega, Tribune staff reporters. Kim Barker reported from Mehtarlam and James Janega from Waukesha
Published September 24, 2006

MEHTARLAM, Afghanistan -- The older soldiers called themselves the Gray Brigade, but Sgt. 1st Class Merideth Howard never talked about her age. Soon, no one asked.

In training, the Waukesha, Wis., resident ran as hard as men much younger. She became a gunner on a Humvee at this small military base, building a wooden box to stand on so she could see over the turret.

Her last night here, Howard and Staff Sgt. Robert Paul sat on the back stoop of their barracks with the base cook, as usual.

"We started talking about the time she got shot at," said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Marlin McDaniel, 42, the cook. "I said I'd probably duck. I wouldn't know what to do. But they both basically said at the same time, `When it's your time to go, it's your time to go.'"

The next day, Howard and Paul made a supply run to a U.S. military base near the Afghan capital. They never made it back, dying in a fiery suicide bombing in Kabul on Sept. 8.

At 52, Howard, who had gray hair and an infectious smile, became the oldest known American woman to die in combat.

The fact that she was even here, serving as a gunner on a Humvee, shows the drain that two wars have put on an all-volunteer military. She was the new face of the military's civil affairs units, which do reconstruction and relief work. Constant deployments have tapped out the regular Army Reservists who most often filled those jobs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Howard never had been deployed before, not since joining the Reserves on a whim in 1988. After her medical unit was disbanded in 1996, she was assigned to the Individual Ready Reserves, for soldiers without a unit. She still went to monthly drills but mainly handled paperwork, biding her time, putting in her 20 years before earning retirement benefits.

But as a stopgap--and in a first for the U.S. military--provincial reconstruction teams in Afghanistan were being filled by a mix of Navy, Air Force, Army, National Guard and Reserve soldiers. And many in the Reserves were like Howard, in the Individual Ready Reserves, home also to retired soldiers who had recently left the Army. A few regular reservists, such as Paul, volunteered for civil affairs. The rest, such as Howard, were called up last December.

"We were a little surprised," said Master Sgt. Robyn Fees, 50, who became a close friend of Howard's after the two were called up. "We didn't even know what `civil affairs' was, to be honest with you."

Howard was a no-frills woman, more comfortable pounding a hammer than wearing a dress, those who served with her said. In Afghanistan, she often visited the base area known as Home Depot, where the wood was stored, and built herself a rudimentary armoire and a side table. Her hammer still sits in her room on base. An unfinished picture frame, made from Afghan carved wood she bought at a local bazaar, waits on her desk.

She was used to challenges. Born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas, Howard wanted to be a firefighter, but her hometown did not hire women. So in 1978 she joined the department in Bryan, Texas, as its first female firefighter. She later became a fire risk-management specialist with insurance companies, eventually helping set up a consulting company in California.

In 1991, Howard started dating Hugh Hvolboll, who made fireworks for a living. "You set them off, and I'll decide how much damage they cause," Howard would joke. In 2004 the couple moved to Waukesha for his job. They never felt the need to get married, not until she was called up in December. Slightly nervous, Howard wanted to make their relationship official.

"As a boyfriend, I would have no status with the Army," Hvolboll said. "As a husband, I did."

In late April, the nine members of Howard's civil affairs team arrived at the Mehtarlam base in eastern Laghman province. They formed the core of the provincial reconstruction team.

Paul, 43, of Hammond, Ind., had more experience than the rest. An urban planner and a Peace Corps veteran, he had volunteered to spend all of 2004 in Iraq on a provincial reconstruction team.

Paul embraced civil affairs and all that it meant. He died with about $800 in his pocket, a sum that was to have bought a set of false teeth for the mayor of Mehtarlam.

Civil affairs is not a new concept for the U.S. military, but provincial reconstruction teams are. The first team began its work in Afghanistan in 2003, a calculated attempt to try to fight the Taliban by helping Afghans rebuild. Almost immediately, the teams became controversial. Aid agencies accused the teams of blurring the line between the military and aid, possibly endangering traditional relief workers.

But the teams spread to Iraq, and throughout Afghanistan. There are now 24 provincial reconstruction teams here, and a 25th is being set up in eastern Nuristan province.

It is not easy work. Almost 30 years of war have destroyed any professional class in Afghanistan. There are few engineers, architects, doctors or teachers. Achieving anything here takes many attempts. Hospital Road in Mehtarlam, for example, will soon have to be redone for the third time.

On a mission by Howard's unit here last week--the first since she and Paul were killed--Capt. Walter Christian, 36, visited the town's power plant project. Once finished, 800 of the 2,000 homes in town should have power. But the director of the plant mistakenly planned to install the wrong kind of wire. And the old engineer had suddenly left.

"That's pretty much a problem," said Christian, an Army Reservist, shaking his head.

At the new public-safety building, workers did not put enough mortar between the bricks. The stairs were a mess.

The soldiers tried to visit the orphanage, their third attempt. But again, no one showed up at the governor's office to help them find it.

In May, Howard was filmed for a U.S. military video highlighting reconstruction work. She is serious, with no evidence of her normal laugh. She stands in a village near the Mehtarlam base, the wind blowing through her hair, her face pink from the hot sun, just after handing out backpacks to kids.

"We have a good relationship with the people here in the village," she says. "And of course, as [with] everybody in Afghanistan, they are in need."

At first, Howard handled paperwork at the base, tracking projects and applying for money. She was good but longed to be off the base, to go on missions, to be out with the Afghan people. She wanted to be a gunner.

"She wanted to do everything," said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Felicia Mason, 37, who later became Howard's roommate. "She wanted to be able to excel in everything. Because she didn't want anyone to say she couldn't do it because she was a woman."

Howard got her chance. The civil affairs team of nine shrank. One soldier went home after a non-combat injury, another was sent to Nuristan, and the gunner to Jalalabad.

One video shows Howard training on an automatic grenade launcher. She stands on a box inside the turret, trying to squeeze the triggers. "See what you mean, ma'am," she says to 1st Lt. Bernice Logan, an Army Reservist, who had told her the triggers were tough. The trainer tells Howard she might want to put the gun on "fire" and remove the safety. Howard laughs. "That could be the problem."

Howard told a cousin back home she was surprised at what she was doing. She told her husband that one day she realized she enjoyed it. In August, she told Christian she was thinking of extending her tour.

"Merideth liked to live life as an adventure," her husband said.

According to Pentagon policy, women are excluded from serving in combat units, though in the chaotic realities of Iraq and Afghanistan, their support roles have grown ever closer to the front lines.

Howard's death makes her the oldest U.S. servicewoman known to have died in combat, said Judy Bellafaire, chief historian at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation near Arlington National Cemetery. A 52-year-old nurse died in Vietnam, but from a stroke, she said. Even so, there still was some uncertainty. Records for World War II and earlier conflicts often omit ages.

On missions in Afghanistan, Paul was the driver and Howard was the gunner, standing on the box to make up for her height, about 5-foot-4. For Afghans in this conservative tribal area, where most women wear burqas that cover everything, it must have been a bizarre sight: a gray-haired woman in a helmet on top of a Humvee.

"That's why Sgt. Howard loved the turret," said Air Force Senior Airman Brenda Patterson, 26. "She wanted to give little girls dreams of their own."

The supply run to Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul, happened every month or two. On this trip, the soldiers picked up mail, ammunition, supplies and three new Humvees, with adjustable platforms for the gunner.

For the first time, Howard would not need her wooden box.

On that Friday morning, Sept. 8, the convoy of five Humvees left base. Paul and Howard were alone because they planned to pick up two other people at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. At Camp Phoenix, just outside Kabul, the soldiers dropped off one Humvee with transmission problems and a second Humvee pulling a trailer of ammunition.

The other three vehicles made their way down Jalalabad Road, Kabul's suicide bomb alley. The convoy headed for the embassy.

A Lexus SUV pulled up behind the third Humvee. A blue Toyota Corolla followed the Lexus. Witnesses said the Corolla tried to pass the Lexus on the left. But the Lexus blocked the Corolla and started trying to pass the convoy on the left.

The gunner on the third Humvee told soldiers after the attack that he was focused on the Lexus, warning it to stop.

But at the same time, the blue Corolla moved up on the right. One soldier in the third Humvee saw the back of the driver's head, his blue shirt. Another soldier noticed the brake lights.

And they all watched as the car swerved into the second Humvee, bounced off, and then swerved in again. Everything seemed slow, the soldiers said, slow enough to notice the driver's face as he pulled in the last time--his mustache, no beard. And then a loud explosion, and a flash, and everything was on fire. The blast left a 6-foot-wide crater in the road, killing at least eight Afghans.

The soldiers hoped for survivors in the second Humvee, that somehow no one had died. But the medic never even got to open his bag. Howard and Paul, who did most things together on the base, who always referred to each other politely by rank and last name, were killed in the same instant.

From todays ArmyTimes EarlyBird report:


West Point Mourns a Font of Energy, Laid To Rest By War
(Washington Post, September 27, 2006, Pg. 1)
Emily J.T. Perez rose to the top of her high school class and then became the first minority female command sergeant in the history of the U.S. Military Academy. Now she has another distinction. The second lieutenant was buried Tuesday at the academy, the first female graduate of West Point to die in Iraq. Perez, a platoon leader, was killed while patrolling near Najaf on Sept. 12 when a roadside bomb exploded under her Humvee.

NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense

September 16, 2006
Media Contact: (703) 697-5131/697-5132
Public/Industry(703) 428-0711

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

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

2nd Lt. Emily J.T. Perez, 23, of Texas, died on Sept.12 of injuries sustained
in Al Kifl, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near her HMMWV
during combat operations. Perez was assigned to the 204th Support Battalion,
2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

For further information related to this release, contact the 4th Infantry
Division Public Affairs Office at (254) 287-0105.


Royal Marine killed during routine training
27 Sep 06
It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of Lance Corporal Gordon Alexander Campbell during routine training on Monday 25 September 2006.

Royal Navy
Lance Corporal Campbell was based at Poole, home of the Royal Marines Assault Group. He was conducting routine training involving fast roping from a helicopter, which is a Royal Marine skill, when he fell.

The incident took place at the Pontrilas Army Training Area, near Hereford. A thorough investigation is underway to determine the cause.

Lance Corporal Gordon Alexander Campbell, nicknamed "Gordy", aged 28, from Aberdeenshire, joined the Royal Marines in November 1997. During his nine years in the military Gordy had strong operational experience from service in Kosovo, Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.

His Commanding Officer said:

"Throughout his career Gordy demonstrated a natural flair for soldiering, which was coupled with an exceptional level of professionalism. As an individual he will be remembered as a fun loving, generous, selfless and impressive man with a passion for Manchester United. A loyal and dependable man, he has been a fine ambassador for the Royal Marines. He will be sorely missed."


The Human Toll

Operation Iraqi Freedom

U.S. service members who died while supporting combat operations in Iraq, confirmed by the Defense Department Sept. 15-21:

Army Sgt. James R. Worster, 24, Sept. 18, Baghdad

Army Sgt. David J. Davis, 32, Sept. 17, Baghdad

Army Sgt. Adam L. Knox, 21,

Sept. 17, Baghdad

Navy Electronics Technician (SW/DV) 2nd Class David S. Roddy, 32,

Sept. 16, Anbar, Iraq

Army Spc. Russell M. Makowski, 23, Sept. 14, Taji, Iraq

Marine Lance Cpl. Ryan A. Miller, 19, Sept. 14, Anbar, Iraq

Army Sgt. David T. Weir, 23,

Sept. 14, Baghdad

Army Sgt. Clint E. Williams, 24,

Sept. 14, Baghdad

Army Capt. Matthew C. Mattingly, 30, Sept. 13, Mosul, Iraq

Army Pfc. Jeffrey P. Shaffer, 21,

Sept. 13, Ramadi, Iraq

Army 2nd Lt. Emily J.T. Perez, 23, Sept. 12, Kifl, Iraq

Army Spc. Harley D. Andrews, 22, Sept. 11, Ramadi, Iraq

Army Spc. David J. Ramsey, 27,

Sept. 7, Iraq

OIF casualty totals

Sept. 15-21

Killed: 19; wounded in action: 209

March 19, 2003-Sept. 21

Killed: 2,683; wounded in action: 20,322

Operation Enduring Freedom

U.S. service members who died while supporting combat operations in Afghanistan, confirmed by the Defense Department Sept. 15-21:

Army Sgt. 1st Class Bernard L.

Deghand, 42, Sept. 15, Spira, Afghanistan

OEF casualty totals

Sept. 15-21

Killed: 2; wounded in action: 10

Oct. 10, 2001-Sept. 21

Killed: 334; wounded in action: 941


U.S. service members reported captured while supporting combat operations, confirmed by the Defense Department:

Army Staff Sgt. Keith M. Maupin, 23, April 9, 2004, Iraq

Editor’s note: Figures for service members killed usually do not match the number of names confirmed as combat deaths because of the time lag between a death and the public release of the name while next-of-kin are notified. For a comprehensive listing of U.S. troops who have died in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom,

including stories about individual

service members and their

families, visit Faces of Valor at www.militarycity.com/valor.


U.S. Soldier Dies of Non-Combat Injury
The Associated Press
Tuesday, October 3, 2006; 5:44 PM

KUWAIT CITY -- An American soldier serving in Kuwait has been found dead of a non-combat related injury, and the military is investigating the cause, a U.S. military spokesman said Tuesday.

Army Master Sgt. Peter Chadwick declined to identify the soldier, who was found dead on Sunday, except to say she was female. He also would not provide any details regarding her death pending the notification of next of kin.

Kuwait has been a major ally of Washington since the 1991 Gulf War that liberated it from a seven-month Iraqi occupation under Saddam Hussein. The tiny Gulf emirate was the launch pad for the U.S.-led 2003 invasion of Iraq that toppled the Iraqi leader, and it is still a logistics base for American and other coalition forces.

Friday, October 13, 2006 · Last updated 8:13 p.m. PT

SEAL falls on grenade to save comrades


  This photo provided by the U.S. Navy shows Navy SEAL Michael A. Monsoor, left, on patrol in Iraq in 2006. Monsoor died Friday, Sept. 29, 2006, in Ramadi, Iraq, when he threw himself on a grenade to save fellow SEALs. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy) 
CORONADO, Calif. -- A Navy SEAL sacrificed his life to save his comrades by throwing himself on top of a grenade Iraqi insurgents tossed into their sniper hideout, fellow members of the elite force said.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor had been near the only door to the rooftop structure Sept. 29 when the grenade hit him in the chest and bounced to the floor, said four SEALs who spoke to The Associated Press this week on condition of anonymity because their work requires their identities to remain secret.

"He never took his eye off the grenade, his only movement was down toward it," said a 28-year-old lieutenant who sustained shrapnel wounds to both legs that day. "He undoubtedly saved mine and the other SEALs' lives, and we owe him."

Monsoor, a 25-year-old gunner, was killed in the explosion in Ramadi, west of Baghdad. He was only the second SEAL to die in Iraq since the war began.

Two SEALs next to Monsoor were injured; another who was 10 to 15 feet from the blast was unhurt. The four had been working with Iraqi soldiers providing sniper security while U.S. and Iraqi forces conducted missions in the area.

In an interview at the SEALs' West Coast headquarters in Coronado, four members of the special force remembered "Mikey" as a loyal friend and a quiet, dedicated professional.

"He was just a fun-loving guy," said a 26-year-old petty officer 2nd class who went through the grueling 29-week SEAL training with Monsoor. "Always got something funny to say, always got a little mischievous look on his face."

Other SEALS described the Garden Grove, Calif., native as a modest and humble man who drew strength from his family and his faith. His father and brother are former Marines, said a 31-year-old petty officer 2nd class.

Prior to his death, Monsoor had already demonstrated courage under fire. He has been posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his actions May 9 in Ramadi, when he and another SEAL pulled a team member shot in the leg to safety while bullets pinged off the ground around them.

Monsoor's funeral was held Thursday at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego. He has also been submitted for an award for his actions the day he died.

The first Navy SEAL to die in Iraq was Petty Officer 2nd Class Marc A. Lee, 28, who was killed Aug. 2 in a firefight while on patrol against insurgents in Ramadi. Navy spokesman Lt. Taylor Clark said the low number of deaths among SEALs in Iraq is a testament to their training.

Sixteen SEALs have been killed in Afghanistan. Eleven of them died in June 2005 when a helicopter was shot down near the Pakistan border while ferrying reinforcements for troops pursuing al-Qaida militants.

There are about 2,300 of the elite fighters, based in Coronado and Little Creek, Va.

The Navy is trying to boost that number by 500 - a challenge considering more than 75 percent of candidates drop out of training, notorious for "Hell Week," a five-day stint of continual drills by the ocean broken by only four hours sleep total. Monsoor made it through training on his second attempt.
NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense

October 31, 2006
Media Contact: (703) 697-5131/697-5132
Public/Industry(703) 428-0711

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

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

Staff Sgt. Kyu H. Chay, 34, of Fayetteville, N.C., died on Oct. 28 in
the Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan, from injuries suffered when an
improvised explosive device detonated near his combat patrol. Chay was
assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort
Bragg, North Carolina.

For further information related to this release the media may contact
the Special Operations Command public affairs office at (910) 432-7585.

Kingsman Jamie Hancock killed in Iraq
7 Nov 06

It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of Kingsman Jamie Hancock, aged 19, from The 2nd Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, in Basra, southern Iraq on Monday 6 November 2006.

Kingsman Hancock died as a result of injuries sustained when he came under small arms fire whilst on sentry duty.  The incident took place at approximately 1200hrs local time at the Old State Building, a Coalition Forces base in central Basra City. There were no further casualties.