Friday, October 17, 2003

Land mine kills Radcliff native in Iraq

The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE - A soldier from Kentucky died in Iraq when his Bradley Armored Vehicle struck a land mine, the Army said.

Spc. James E. Powell, 26, was killed Sunday near Beiji, 30 miles north of Tikrit.

Powell was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment. The unit is part of the 4th Infantry Division, which controls a large swath of northern Iraq and is based in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown 120 miles north of Baghdad.

Powell entered the Army on March 28, 1998, and had been assigned to Fort Hood since June 16, 2001. He was born in Ohio but listed Radcliff, Ky., as his hometown of record, the Army said.

He was one of two soldiers from his battalion who were hailed with Psalms and a 21-gun salute Thursday in a memorial service at one of Saddam's palaces.

More than 190 American soldiers have been killed by hostile fire since President Bush declared an end to major combat in Iraq on May 1. But the two deaths were especially poignant because they occurred within a 24-hour period and within the same regiment, which is stationed in one of the most dangerous areas of Iraq.

The other soldier was Spc. Donald L. Wheeler, of Concord, Mich., who died Monday in downtown Tikrit when a rocket-propelled grenade hit his vehicle.

Tikrit lies at the heart of the Sunni Triangle, a region stretching north and west of the Iraqi capital where most of the attacks against U.S. soldiers have taken place.

Several hundred soldiers, including those of Wheeler's Charlie Company and Powell's Bravo Company, gathered at the downtown palace for the somber ceremony.

Medals, including the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, were awarded posthumously to Wheeler and Powell.

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