Strike Force soldier killed in firefight at Ramadi
SEOUL — Another soldier formerly assigned to Camp Howze, South Korea, was killed in Ramadi last weekend, this time a victim of a firefight, according to the Pentagon.
Pfc. Andrew M. Ward, 25, of Kirkland, Wash., died Sunday. He was assigned to the 44th Engineer Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, Camp Howze.
Ward was the 29th Strike Force soldier to die since 3,500 soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team were deployed to Iraq this summer. Ward also was the seventh soldier from Camp Howze to die in Ramadi since the Thanksgiving weekend.
Since early November, U.S.-led forces have targeted insurgents believed to be in Ramadi and Fallujah, cities east of Baghdad, in the hopes of stemming car bombings, shootings and other violence throughout the region. The American military increased its troop levels to 150,000 during the same time in hopes of ensuring a safe national election, now scheduled for late January.
On Wednesday, the Pentagon confirmed the number of combat deaths has grown to 1,001 since the war began in March 2003, according to the Associated Press. As of Wednesday, 1,276 American casualties were related to the war in Iraq, according to the Pentagon.
Other soldiers from Camp Howze who were killed in Ramadi in the past two weeks were:
Spc. Sergio R. Diazvarela, 21, of Lomita, Calif., died on Nov. 24; Pfc. Harrison J. Meyer, 20, of Worthington, Ohio, and Pvt. Brian K. Grant, 31, of Dallas, died on Nov. 26; Staff Sgt. Michael B. Shackelford, 25, of Grand Junction, Colo., Sgt. Carl W. Lee, 23, of Oklahoma City, and Pfc. Stephen C. Benish, 20, of Clark, N.J., died on Nov. 28.