YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — The 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division has suffered two more deaths in Iraq, the Pentagon confirmed Thursday, equaling in six months the number of deaths suffered in one year by the unit 2nd Brigade followed.

The deaths of Sgt. Andrew L. Bossert and Pfc. Michael W. Franklin, killed March 7 when a car bomb detonated near their checkpoint in Ramadi, bring the 2nd Brigade Combat Team’s total number of deaths to 50. The brigade deployed from South Korea to Kuwait in August, then took over an area of operations near Ramadi in early September.

The 1st Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team had responsibility for the area before that; over a year that brigade suffered 50 deaths and almost 500 wounded, officials said last year.

Ramadi has been a flashpoint city in the heart of the so-called Sunni Triangle; amid the highly volatile security situation that prevailed during January’s elections, just 600 of the city’s 400,000 residents decided to venture to the polls.

In interviews conducted before and after the election, 2nd Brigade officials pointed to several reasons for the relatively high number of losses. The brigade’s troops have been patrolling and fighting in downtown Ramadi, an urban area fraught with dangers including car bombs, snipers, roadside bombs and mortars.

Many of the unit’s patrols are done on foot. While this affords the soldiers a chance to mix and talk with Ramadi residents, brigade officials said, not being in an armored vehicle is an inherent safety trade-off.

In recent weeks, 2nd Brigade and Marine Corps units in Al Anbar province have been leading Operation River Blitz, a series of raids and tightened security measures in several cities — including Ramadi — along the Euphrates River.

Bossert and Franklin both were assigned to the 44th Engineer Battalion, which deployed from Camp Howze, South Korea.

Bossert, 24, was from Fountain City, Wis. He enlisted in the Army five years ago and spent just more than two years in South Korea before heading to Iraq, his mother, Diane Bossert, told his hometown media.

Friends and family mourned Bossert as a devoted husband, star athlete and aspiring architect.

Diane Bossert told local media she last talked to her son the Saturday before he was killed.

“He basically said what he always does. That he was fine. Not very often did he talk about the dangers,” she told the Winona Daily News.

Bossert met his wife, Olya, in South Korea. They married two years ago, Diane Bossert said. Olya Bossert moved in with her husband’s parents when he deployed to Iraq.

“Family and country were the most important things to him,” Diane Bossert told the paper.

Franklin, 22, of Coudersport, Pa., followed two of his uncles into the military when he enlisted in the Army, family members said.

“He was in Korea first, and one day he called and said, ‘Mom, I volunteered to go to Iraq.’” Tina Franklin, his mother, told the Associated Press.

“I probably could have stopped him, because he’s my son. But he’s a man, and he’s old enough to make his own decisions. He was so excited about it.”

Tina Franklin said she was told her son, who was single, routinely volunteered to go on missions in place of his married comrades.

Michael Franklin would have turned 23 on April 2 and was planning on using his leave time to be home for his birthday, family members said.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now