A Schweinfurt, Germany-based soldier was killed in Iraq on Wednesday, the first U.S. combat death in the country in nearly a month.
Pfc. William Z. Van Osdol, 23, of Pinson, Ala., died of wounds suffered following an enemy rocket striking his quarters in Ad Diwaniyah, Iraq, according to a Defense Department release. Van Osdol was assigned to the 172nd Infantry Brigade.
Spc. Joshua Loveland was injured in the attack but returned to duty after medical treatment, according to the unit’s official statement on the incident.
Vanosdol’s was the first hostile death in August, although three other U.S. soldiers died in nonhostile situations. Prior to Van Osdol’s death, the last U.S. soldier to die in a hostile situation was Staff Sgt. Johnny R. Polk, 39, of Gulfport, Miss., who died July 25 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. He was wounded when his vehicle was struck by an anti-tank grenade on July 23 in Kirkuk.
With four deaths, August is on pace to have the lowest number of U.S. military casualties since operations began in 2003.
A memorial ceremony for Van Osdol is scheduled for Sept. 1, at 10:30 a.m., at Ledward Chapel in Schweinfurt, according to Capt. Joshua Buchanan, rear detachment commander for the 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment.
Pinson Valley High School Assistant Principle Karen Mardis only knew him for a few years after he transferred to the high school. But she believes he was living the epic battle he dreamed of in her English class.
"When William really lit up is when we were talking about literature — especially stories about heroes or people who came from common backgrounds to do extraordinary things to change the world," Mardis told local news station ABC 33/40. "This may have been an end he would have chosen to make."
High school friend Michael Taylor lost his best man.
"He’d already started working on the best man speech and told me about it," said Taylor. "I already made him a promise 2 ½ years ago that I was going to let him to do the speech for me. I don’t know what I’m going to do."
Van Osdol will be buried in Alabama, according to local media reports. Van Osdol served as a member of the Maintenance Support Team from Company B, 172nd Support Battalion and was attached to the 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment at Forward Operating Base Echo, according to the Army statement.
Survivors include his mother, Susan, and two sisters. His father died in mid-April, and Van Osdol was in Iraq at that time, according to The Birmingham News.