Two 1st ID soldiers killed in Iraq identified
The Department of Defense on Friday identified two soldiers with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division who were killed Sept. 3 in Baghdad.
Sgt. Jason L. Merrill, 22, of Mesa, Ariz., and Pvt. Edwin A. Andino II, 23, of Culpeper, Va., died when a makeshift bomb detonated near their Humvee.
Both were members of the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, based in Schweinfurt, Germany. The battalion was the first part of the 2nd Brigade deployed to Iraq. They began moving to Baghdad from Kuwait in mid-August.
Merrill already had one Iraq deployment under his belt when he headed back to Iraq. The deployment was Andino’s first.
H. Dean Settle, an uncle of Andino’s, told The Washington Post the two soldiers were killed while engaged in a counterattack after a mortar round struck their base camp.
Merrill’s father, Tim, told The Arizona Republic his son transformed from a listless teenager to a young man with a mission after enlisting in the Army four years ago.
“I was very proud of what he had become. He went from being a boy to being a man,” he was quoted by the newspaper.
Merrill was scheduled to get out of the Army this month, but his time in service was extended when his unit was sent to Iraq Aug. 15, according to the Republic.
After Merrill’s first deployment to Iraq, he told his family he wanted to become a pediatrician, the newspaper reported. His father said his son always had a soft spot for children and was moved to help them by the horrors he witnessed in Iraq, according to the report.
Andino enlisted in the Army on Sept. 3, 2005, Chad Robinson, a friend of Andino’s, told the Post.
“I told him, ‘If that’s what you want to do, man, do it. It could be good for you,’ ” Robison was quoted saying. “Everyone was proud of him when he did.”
Settle told the Post that Andino could sleep through anything, and that he didn’t wake up even when a makeshift bomb exploded near his barracks in eastern Baghdad during his first night there.
“We tell that story, and we laugh. And then we use it to remember what kind of a good kid he was, then we laugh some more,” Settle said.
Information on memorial services was not available Saturday.