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Pentagon IDs soldier who died in noncombat incident in Kuwait

Sgt. William Edward Friese.

U.S. ARMY

By CHAD GARLAND | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 20, 2019

The Pentagon on Saturday identified a soldier who died in a noncombat incident in Kuwait this week while serving on his second deployment.

Sgt. William Edward Friese, 30, a light-wheeled vehicle mechanic in the West Virginia Army National Guard, died Thursday at Camp Buehring, the military said. Details of the incident were not released, and a Pentagon statement said it remained under investigation.

Friese, of Rockport, W.Va., was assigned to the 821st Engineer Company, 1092nd Engineer Battalion, 111th Engineer Brigade, based in Summersville, W.Va. He was deployed as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led coalition battling Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

“Our missions are inherently dangerous and not without risk, yet every day, our military members are prepared to defend our Nation in the most dangerous places in the world,” said Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, adjutant general of the West Virginia National Guard, in an emailed statement.

The death brings to eight the number of servicemembers who have died supporting the anti-ISIS mission this year, most of them in nonhostile incidents.

It is the third Army fatality in noncombat incidents in Kuwait, following the deaths of Sgt. Holli R. Bolinski and Spc. Jackson D. Johnson in a vehicle crash in March. Both had been deployed to Camp Arifjan with the 657th Transportation Company, 419th Transportation Battalion, 103rd Sustainment Command out of Mount Vernon, Ill.

A West Virginia native, Friese had enlisted in 2008 and deployed to Afghanistan for a year in 2010 with the 1092nd Engineer Battalion, said Air Force Maj. Holli Nelson, a spokeswoman for the West Virginia National Guard, in an emailed statement.

Friese’s medals and decorations include the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the NATO Afghanistan Service Medal, the Army Achievement Medal and the Army Good Conduct Medal, the statement said.

Friese represented the values that are foundational to the Guard, Hoyer said.

“The loss of William will be felt throughout our entire organization,” he said. “I extend my heartfelt condolences to William’s family, friends and those who served with him.”

He is survived by his wife, two children, mother, sister and grandparents, Nelson said.

Gov. Jim Justice asked all West Virginians to join him and his wife in praying for Friese’s family and the National Guard.

“Everything we have we owe to the men and women who defend our country and protect our freedoms,” Justice was quoted as saying in an emailed statement. “We will do everything we can to provide support to his family and will never forget his service and sacrifice to this great State and our great Nation.”

garland.chad@stripes.com
Twitter: @chadgarland

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