On second tour in Iraq, 'great soldier' dies in roadside bombing
Nearly nine months into his second Iraq tour, in a truck equipped with the best armor the U.S. Army now provides, Spc. Kevin M. Jones died Thursday night near Taqaddum after being hit by a roadside bomb.
A memorial service for Jones, of the 181st Transportation Battalion, will be held Monday at 10 a.m. at the chapel in Benjamin Franklin Village in Mannheim, Germany.
A service in Iraq was scheduled for Tuesday, said Lt. Col. Tony Chambers, battalion commander, who, along with the rest of his troops, leaves Mannheim for Iraq next week.
“Specialist Jones — he’s a great soldier,” Chambers said.
Jones, 21, of Washington, N.C., was the second member of the 181st Transportation Battalion killed since his unit deployed in January, Chambers said. The battalion, part of the 16th Corps Support Group, 3rd Corps Support Command in Mannheim, delivers cargo on some of the most dangerous routes in the world.
The battalion transported more than 18 million gallons of fuel, delivered more than 564,540 tons of supplies, and traveled more than 10 million miles in Iraq in its first deployment there in 2003, according to the battalion Web site.
The “Road Warriors” moved all classes of supplies, often in extremely hazardous terrain, both physically and under enemy action, while enduring 160-degree temperatures inside their cabs, constant enemy attacks, and minimal repair part support, the Web site says.
All told, the battalion repelled 69 enemy attacks, of which 18 were roadside bombs and 31 were small-arms engagements, resulting in 17 Purple Hearts for combat injuries, according to the Web site.
“It’s a hard mission we do,” Chambers said. “Our soldiers are well-equipped and well-prepared.”
Jones enlisted for six years after graduating from high school in 2002 because, his brother, Ken Jones, was quoted as saying, “He loved his country, and he had wanted to serve for near-’bout forever,” according to an Associated Press report.
“He truly loved helping the people, and he thought he was really helping,” Jones’ brother told the AP.
Jones was driving a palletized load system cargo-carrying truck, which can haul 16.5 tons. The truck had Level 2 up-armor, the most expensive armor kit now used and which includes ballistic steel plates and bulletproof windows, Chambers said.
A second soldier in the truck was wounded in the attack.
“He was hurt, not seriously,” Chambers said. “He has been returned to duty.”