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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — An investigation was continuing Tuesday into the death of an Okinawa-based Marine in Iraq on Friday.

Cpl. Christian S. Cotner, 20, assigned to Marine Wing Support Squadron 172, Marine Wing Support Group 17, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, was killed in what Department of Defense officials are calling a "nonhostile incident" in the Anbar province of Iraq, where his unit is deployed.

No details regarding the incident have been released.

His death pushed the number of Americans killed in Iraq in May to 19, the lowest number since 20 troops died in February 2004, according to an Associated Press tally based on military reports.

Cotner, a field radio operator, entered the Marine Corps on Aug. 7, 2006, according to a Marine Corps news release from Okinawa. He arrived on Okinawa April 12, 2007, and was promoted to the rank of corporal on April 1.

His personal awards and decorations included the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon and Meritorious Mast.

A memorial service was planned for Wednesday on Okinawa, but Marine spokesman Master Sgt. Charles Albrecht declined to release details.

Cotner’s home was in Waterbury, Conn., where Gov. M. Jodi Rell ordered state flags to be lowered to half-staff until his burial.

"By all accounts, Corporal Cotner was a remarkable young man who was doing what he loved the most: serving his country," Rell said in a statement released by her office.

"The news of his loss is heart-breaking for all Connecticut residents," she said. "Corporal Cotner was proud to serve as a U.S. Marine, and he courageously put on the uniform to protect our freedom. On behalf of all state residents, I extend our deepest sympathies to his friends and family."

The III MEF has nearly 2,900 servicemembers deployed in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cotner is the 18th Okinawa-based Marine to die in Iraq in the past five years.


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