13 January 2008

Vilseck mourns the loss of six of its own

VILSECK, Germany — The rural military community of Vilseck is just a fraction of itself, now that most of its soldiers are deployed to Iraq.

But when word came that six of their own died Wednesday in Sinsil, Iraq, after entering a booby-trapped home, the quiet, depleted community grew a little bit closer, according to spouses living there.

“You take your time, clear your day and be prepared to spend time on the phone,” Kimberly Blatchford said Saturday.

“Everybody hears about it because you start getting e-mails and phone calls. You just make sure that everybody is OK and not home alone.”

Blatchford’s husband, Sgt. Todd Blatchford, is serving with the six soldiers who died last week. On Friday, the Defense Department released their names: Spc. Todd E. Davis, 22, of Raymore, Mo.; Staff Sgt. Jonathan K. Dozier, 30, of Rutherford, Tenn.; Staff Sgt. Sean M. Gaul, 29, of Reno, Nev.; Sgt. Zachary W. McBride, 20, of Bend, Ore.; Sgt. 1st Class Matthew I. Pionk, 30, of Superior, Wis.; and Sgt. Christopher A. Sanders, 22, of Roswell, N.M.

All were assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Division.

They were part of Operation Phantom Phoenix, an offensive that has U.S. and Iraqi troops hunting suspected al-Qaida in Iraq militants and supporters around Baghdad, in eastern Diyala province and the northern provinces of Salahuddin, Tamim and Nineveh.

Godspeed, warriors. Our thoughts and prayers are with your families and the rest of the 2nd SCR.

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