Support our mission

SEOUL — Two more Strike Force soldiers died in Ramadi, Iraq, last week, making 42 casualties from the South Korea-based brigade since it deployed to the Middle East last summer.

Pfc. Michael A. Arciola, 20, of Elmsford, N.Y., died Tuesday from injuries sustained from enemy small-arms fire, according to the Pentagon. Arciola was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division at Camp Casey, South Korea.

Staff Sgt. Jason R. Hendrix, 28, of Claremore, Okla., died Wednesday when an explosion occurred while he was conducting combat operations. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division at Camp Hovey.

In Ramadi and the surrounding western provinces, where Hendrix and Arciola were assigned, almost no one voted in Iraq’s national election last month. There, much of the Sunni population stayed home, either in protest of the vote or out of fear that insurgents would attack polling stations. Sunni Muslims, a minority in Iraq, controlled much of the country under Saddam Hussein’s regime.

At Alexander Hamilton High School in Elmsford, school officials brought in counselors last week as teachers and students remembered Arciola, according to the (White Plains, N.Y.) Journal News. Arciola graduated from the school two years ago.

“This is what he wanted to do,” Andrew Magsino, 19, one of Arciola’s childhood companions and a fellow graduate of Alexander Hamilton High School, told the local newspaper. “He didn’t really have fear. He said he wanted to fight for our country.”

Arciola’s soccer and baseball coach had him over for dinner in January, when Arciola was home from Iraq on leave.

“He talked about going to college when he got out of the military,” Kevin Budzynski told the Journal News. “He was considering studying to become a physician’s assistant or a teacher.”

As of Friday morning, 1,462 servicemembers have died since the U.S.-led Iraqi invasion began in March 2003, according to the Pentagon.


Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up