Eleventh member of Strike Force is killed in Iraq
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — The 2nd Infantry Division has lost its fourth soldier in a span of six days in Iraq, the Pentagon confirmed Thursday.
Spc. Christopher A. Merville, of 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery, was killed Oct. 12 when his unit “came under enemy fire during combat operations,” a Department of Defense press release read. No other information on the circumstances or location of the fighting was available.
Merville, 26, was from Albuquerque, N.M.
Between Oct. 6 and Oct. 12, three other 2nd Brigade soldiers were killed in Iraq. Two of those were combat related; the third was the result of a vehicle crash. Since the brigade arrived in Iraq from South Korea in late August, it has suffered at least 11 deaths, nine of those from enemy fire.
The brigade left its bases in South Korea in early August, spending several weeks at base camps in Kuwait before convoying into Iraq.
Most of the brigade has been operating in Al Abnar province under the command of U.S. Marines. The area includes the volatile cities of Ramadi and Fallujah, which have been targets of renewed strikes by U.S. forces in recent days.
It was unclear Thursday what mission Merville’s unit was performing in Baghdad.
Merville is the third soldier from the 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery to be killed in action. Like many units in Iraq, 2-17 has been trained to assume roles outside its normal fields of expertise.
The battalion’s three companies have been assigned to rotate duties as infantrymen, force protection soldiers and traditional artillery units.
Aside for a moment of silence at the 2nd Infantry Division change of command in mid-September, no public memorial services have been held at U.S. bases in South Korea for the soldiers killed in Iraq. Division officials, though, have said they will hold a memorial in coming weeks for all of the 2nd Brigade casualties.
When the brigade’s yearlong tour is completed, it will relocate to Fort Carson, Colo., instead of returning to South Korea, the Army has said. Many of the 2nd Brigade family members and spouses left South Korea when the deployment began.