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GIESSEN, Germany — Among them, the three soldiers served seven tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, spending well over five years downrange.

By any measure, they were battle-hardened veterans, though, in today’s Army, troops don’t stay green for very long. Bombs and jihadists see to that.

On Tuesday, the Pentagon identified Staff Sgt. Misael Martinez, Staff Sgt. William S. Jackson II and Sgt. Angel De Jesus Lucio Ramirez as the three 16th Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division soldiers who were killed on Veterans Day by a roadside bomb in Ramadi, Iraq.

The deaths represent the first combat fatalities for the battalion in Iraq.

“They were out on a mission, and they got hit by an [improvised explosive device]” said Capt. David Dake, the battalion rear detachment commander in Giessen.

Shortly before the Defense Department identified the men, Lt. Col. Antonio J. Amos, Giessen community commander, spoke at a belated Veterans Day observance on post. He didn’t name or refer to the fallen soldiers, but it was clear their families were on the commander’s mind.

Family members “may not carry weapons on their shoulders, but they carry the weight of worry,” Amos said, based on a copy of his speech. “They carry that burden until their loved ones return home. Tragically, some never do. Whenever a servicemember falls in combat, it is the families who suffer most.”

Details of the attack have yet to be disclosed. Dake said Wednesday that all he knew is that the three were killed by a roadside bomb while riding in their vehicle, probably a Humvee.

“They could have been doing any number of things,” Dake said of their last mission.

Dake was familiar with all three soldiers, but he knew Martinez best.

For much of the year, Martinez worked for the battalion’s rear detachment office. For a couple of months, the 24-year-old North Carolina native even served as the family readiness liaison for Company B.

A couple of months ago, Martinez volunteered to return to Iraq even though he had just completed his second, one-year tour in January.

“They needed a squad leader,” Dake said, “so Sgt. Martinez went down to fulfill that mission.”

Jackson, the eldest of the three at 29, served in the Marine Corps for a few years before leaving the military. He joined the Army in May 2004. As a Marine, he served a seven-month tour in Afghanistan in 2002, and then deployed to Iraq as an Army combat engineer earlier this year. He hailed from Saginaw, Mich.

Ramirez, of Pacoima, Calif., was well into his second, yearlong tour to Iraq. Unlike the other two, the 22-year-old was with the battalion for his first Iraqi deployment, which ran from May 2003 to July 2004.


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