Friends, families mourn three soldiers killed in Iraq
The U.S. military community in Germany and family in the States are mourning three Germany-based soldiers killed in recent days in Iraq.
Spc. Harley D. Andrews, 22, of Weimar, Calif., assigned to the 54th Engineer Battalion at Bamberg, was killed Sept. 11 in Ramadi by a roadside bomb.
Sgt. Jason L. Merrill, 22, of Mesa, Ariz., and Pvt. Edwin A. Andino II, 23, of Culpeper, Va., were both killed Sept. 3 in Baghdad, also by a roadside bomb. They were assigned to the 1st Armored Division’s 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment from Würzburg.
Memorials for the three were held last week in Germany.
Andrews was remembered as a tough, newly married soldier who was about one month away from finishing his tour in Iraq. His mother, Kimberly Barlow, told news agencies in her home of Portland, Ore., that while he called the Iraq war “dirty,” Andrews “was very proud to be a soldier.”
“He loved hunting and fishing, and liked pit bulls. He had a heart of gold. He was very loving. If you met him and you made a friend with him, you had a friend for life,” she told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Andrews had been married for slightly more than a year and had a young son, family members said.
Andino joined the Army to “make his family proud,” friends said.
“He believed in what he was doing, and we supported him that way,” Dean Settle, Andino’s uncle, told the Media General News Service. “We’re very proud of him.”
Chad Robison, Andino’s friend, recalled how the two met when Andino — an avid guitar player into heavy metal — auditioned for Robison’s band. Later, Andino joined the Army.
“He made this decision and everybody was proud of him,” Robison said. “He believed in why we were there. Even though me and some of my other friends would disagree, he still believed in the reason why he was going. That’s what made him a hero to me.”
Merrill’s mother and best friend shared their memories at an impromptu news conference in the family’s front yard in Mesa.
Merrill “wouldn’t have liked to see tears — only good remembrances and smiles,” his mother, Wanda Sue Merrill, was quoted as saying in the East Valley Tribune. Merrill had been in Iraq for about three weeks when he was killed, officials said.
“All he wanted was to make people happy. He was always smiling,” Anthony Farquer, a longtime friend, said.