Two 1st Armored Division soldiers killed May 25 in Iraq were identified Sunday by the Pentagon as members of the Baumholder, Germany-based 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment.
The soldiers — Capt. Douglas A. DiCenzo and Spc. Robert E. Blair — were killed when their Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb in Baghdad, family members and military officials said.
Few biographical details were available about Blair, listed by the Pentagon as a 22-year-old from Ocala, Fla.
In hometown media reports, DiCenzo was remembered as a West Point graduate, a star athlete and 30-year-old native of Plymouth, N.H.
“There is nothing easy here. … He was a great leader and everyone wanted him for a kid,” DiCenzo’s mother, Cathy Crane, was quoted as saying by the Laconia (N.H.) Citizen newspaper.
DiCenzo is also survived by his wife, Nicole, and a 15-month old son who had remained in Germany during the deployment. DiCenzo also is survived by a brother and his father, family members said.
“He was such a good kid. He worked really hard at everything he did. He was really dedicated to serving his country and thought it was his duty to do this,” his father, Larry DiCenzo, told the New Hampshire Union Leader.
DiCenzo was class president and captain of the football and wrestling teams at his high school.
Family members were quoted in news reports as saying they would set up an outdoors and sporting camp fund in DiCenzo’s memory.
The 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment was called into Baghdad in March after serving as a “call-forward force” in Kuwait since November. Originally, military officials in Iraq said the Operation Scales of Justice mission would last about 30 days and was in reaction to a confluence of events calling for more troops; that time frame was later extended indefinitely.
The American soldiers replaced Iraqi forces, which were repositioned, according to Multi-National Force-Iraq officials. The U.S. unit was working alongside several Iraqi units in Baghdad.
At least two other soldiers of the battalion had been killed since the mission began. Staff Sgt. Darrell P. Clay and Sgt. Israel Devora Garcia were killed in Baghdad on April 1 when a makeshift bomb detonated while they were on a foot patrol, officials said.
Not all Baumholder-based 2nd Brigade units are in Kuwait. Units from 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment are in central Iraq, attached to the 101st Airborne Division. Other brigade units in Iraq include parts of 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery, also based in Baumholder.
Troops from the Friedberg-based 1st Brigade have been in northern Iraq since January. This is the second division deployment to Iraq since the invasion three years ago.
Keeping 2nd Brigade in Kuwait was one-half of the initial drawdown of forces announced by the Pentagon late last year. Another U.S. Army brigade that was scheduled to be in Iraq is being held at its home base in the U.S.