CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea — A 2nd Brigade Combat Team soldier was killed by enemy fire in Iraq, the second such death in as many days, the Pentagon said Wednesday, bringing the brigade’s number of combat fatalities to five.
Capt. Eric L. Allton, 34, was killed Sunday in Ramadi by a mortar round, officials said. A native of Houston, Allton was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment.
No further details on the incident were available Wednesday. The day before, the Pentagon confirmed the combat death of a soldier from the 44th Engineer Battalion.
Allton’s “first love was the Army,” Harry Allton, Eric’s father, told the Houston Chronicle. “It was a love, not a duty. Just like a man would choose to be a doctor — that was the attitude he had.
“He was a generous, Christian gentleman and was well-loved by everyone. Everyone was aware of his generosity and kindness.”
According to the Chronicle, Eric Allton enlisted in 1994, swiftly moved through the ranks and got his commission after attending officer training school. Allton’s survivors include his parents; his wife, Chistina; their sons, Harrison, 11, and Hunter, 8; and his two sisters, the newspaper reported.
The soldiers of the 2-17 and 44th Engineers are among 3,600 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division soldiers dispatched to Iraq in August for a yearlong tour. Operating from Camp Ramadi, the 2-17th is part of the U.S. force in Al Anbar province, which includes the volatile cities of Ramadi and Fallujah.
U.S. military commanders have promised increased offensives in the area as Iraq’s January elections approach.
The 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment was based at Camp Hovey, South Korea, before its deployment. Before the Iraq mission, the regiment’s three batteries trained as infantrymen and force protection specialists, in addition to serving their traditional artillery role.
Battery A was scheduled to work as an infantry company during the first four months in Iraq, officials have said, and will rotate through each role over the rest of the year. No information was immediately available Wednesday as to which battery Allton was assigned.
During their first weeks in Iraq, the 2-17 members went on joint patrols with the 1st Infantry Division’s 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, which spent the past year in Ramadi with a similar mission.
A sixth soldier from the 2nd Brigade died of noncombat related injuries shortly after arriving in Kuwait, officials have said.