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Jul 17th, 2009


Three Coalition Soldiers Die in Attack on Iraq Base


July 17, 2009

BAGHDAD — Three soldiers were killed in an attack on a coalition forces base in the former Shiite militia stronghold of Basra, the U.S. military said Friday.

The soldiers were killed about 9:15 p.m. Thursday when their base near Basra’s airport was hit by “indirect fire,” the military said, referring to an attack by mortars or rockets.

U.S. troops recently took over for departing British forces and are housed outside of Iraq’s second-largest city. …

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NEWS UPDATE

3 Minnesota National Guardsmen Killed in Basra

KSTP TV 5
Minneapolis-St. Paul
July 17, 2009

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and ABC News have confirmed all three of the deceased were members of the Minnesota National Guard 34th Infantry Division Red Bulls, headquartered in Rosemount.

ABC News says the three soldiers were killed from a missile strike in their compound at their base outside Iraq’s second largest city around 9:15 p.m. Thursday.

“Our hearts are broken over the loss of these fine young people. The Red Bulls are a deeply rooted part of our community, and all of Rosemount deeply mourns their passing,” said State Rep. Phil Sterner of Rosemount.

The Pentagon tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS all families have been notified. The soldiers have been identified, through family and friends, as Carlos Wilcox, 27, of Cottage Grove, Danny Drevnick, 22, of Woodbury, and James Wertish, 20, of Olivia.

Wilcox’s friends and family say he worked as a security officer at The Ugly Mug in downtown Minneapolis. Friends gathered at the bar Friday to remember him.

“My son loved his country, and he died an honorable death,” said his mother Charlene Wilcox.

Drevnick’s family tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS their son had just been home on leave for two weeks and returned to Iraq on July 8. His father says Drevnick had dreams of becoming a State Trooper.

“Three Multi-National Division-South Soldiers were killed when Contingency Operating Base Basra was attacked by indirect fire,” the U.S. military said, referring to a mortar or rocket attack.

Two Iraqis were killed, and at least two dozen others were injured in bombings in Baghdad as huge crowds of pilgrims gathered to commemorate a revered Shiite saint.

In Karmah, about 50 miles west of the capital, the daughter and granddaughter of a police officer died in a bombing at his home. …

———

7/22/09 Update

Willmar Soldier Recovering from July 16 Attack That Killed Three Others

By Eric Ludy
West Central Tribune (Willmar, Minn.)
July 22, 2009

WILLMAR — The fourth soldier involved in the July 16 attack that killed three Minnesotan soldiers has identified himself as Spc. Jacob Benson, of Willmar.

Benson suffered injuries during the rocket attack at 9:15 p.m. Iraqi time on a military base near Basra in southern Iraq. His friends, Spc. James Wertish, 20, of rural Olivia, Spc. Carlos E. Wilcox IV, 27, of Cottage Grove, and Spc. Daniel P. Drevnick, 22, of Woodbury, were all killed in the attack.

Benson told the Tribune that pieces of shrapnel were found in his arm and his back after the attack. He also suffered bruises from being thrown by the explosion. He is still in recovery.

Read more on Benson’s story in Thursday’s [July 23] edition of the West Central Tribune.

———

Related report on this site

War Comes Home to Minnesota (July 21, 2009)

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Taliban Threatens to Kill Captured U.S. Soldier

Video
Image: Afghanistan flier
Desperately seeking missing soldier (NBC Nightly News, July 16, 2009) — The U.S. military stepped up efforts to find an American soldier missing in Afghanistan, airdropping leaflets seeking information on his whereabouts. NBC’s Brian Williams reports. (00:24)

NBC News and The Associated Press via MSMBC.com
July 16, 2009

KABUL — Local Taliban commanders threatened Thursday to kill a captured American soldier unless the U.S. military stops operations in two districts of southeastern Afghanistan, but senior military officials dismissed the report.

Also Thursday, Canadian authorities announced that a Canadian soldier was killed southwest of Kandahar, bringing to 47 the number of international troops killed in Afghanistan this month. That makes July the deadliest month of the war for foreign troops — with nearly half the month to go.

The Taliban claimed last week to be holding the American soldier, whom the U.S. military earlier described as possibly being in enemy hands.

Abdullah Jalali, a spokesman for Taliban commander Mawlavi Sangin, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Thursday that the soldier was healthy.

He said the soldier would be killed unless the U.S. stops airstrikes in Ghazni provinces Giro district and Paktika provinces Khoshamand district. Jalali did not explain why the Taliban chose those areas, noting only that Giro has been heavily bombed.

Spokeswoman Capt. Elizabeth Mathias declined to comment on the demands but did say recent operations in Giro district this month did not involve bombings.

Neither district is in Helmand province, where Marines are conducting the largest U.S. military operation in Afghanistan since the Taliban were toppled from power in 2001.

Military drops fliers on soldier

Senior U.S. military officials dismissed reports of the threat to kill the soldier. The officials also told NBC News that no air combat operations were under way in either district. They also said it’s not clear exactly which Taliban network may have the soldier in custody, although it’s believed he is still somewhere inside that eastern region of Afghanistan.

The U.S. military is distributing fliers calling for the soldier’s release. The fliers are being airdropped or distributed by hand along the border with Pakistan.

Each flier has images on front and back. One reads: “One of our American guests is missing. Return the guest to his home. Call us at 070 769 4351.”

One with an image of a soldier kicking in the door reads: “If you do not release the U.S. soldier, you will be hunted.”

Jalali said the final decision about the soldiers fate will be made by Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

The U.S. military has said the soldier was noticed missing during a routine check of the unit on June 30 and was “believed captured.”

The Taliban claimed on its Web site on July 6 that it was holding the soldier.

“Five days ago, a drunken American soldier who had come out of his garrison named Malakh was captured by mujahedeen. … He is still with mujahedeen,” said the report. The short Web message did not elaborate on his whereabouts, nor did it provide any proof such as a photo.

The U.S. military has said it intercepted communications in which insurgents talked about holding an American.

‘Just walked off’

The soldier’s body armor and weapon were found on the base, and U.S. defense sources say he “just walked off the post with three Afghans after work. They say they have no explanation for why he left the base.”

The military has not identified the soldier but say his family has been notified that he is missing. He is serving in an Army infantry unit assigned to a combat outpost, one of a number of smaller bases set up by foreign forces in Afghanistan.

The Canadian soldier was killed at dawn Thursday in the Panjwayi district of Kandahar, the spiritual birthplace of the Taliban, according to a statement issued by Canadian defense authorities in Canada. The previous deadliest months for the international force were June and August of 2008, when 46 foreign troops died. …

Deadly airstrike

Also Thursday, the governor of Kandahar province announced that four civilians were killed and 13 wounded in an airstrike on a village in Shawalikot district. A previous statement had said six civilians were killed.

Wounded villagers at a hospital in the provincial capital told AP that attack helicopters started bombarding their homes at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday. One man said his 3-year-old granddaughter was killed.

Mathias, the U.S. military spokeswoman, said she did not have details because fighting was continuing in the area. She said casualties were reported but could not confirm anything.

U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who took over last month as the commander of U.S. and NATO forces, has said he wants his troops first priority to be protecting Afghan civilians, not using massive firepower.

Elsewhere, officials said three police were killed by a suicide car bomber in Nimroz province, and two Afghan army soldiers died in two other attacks in the south. NATO forces said they killed two insurgents in an attack in the east.

The Interior Ministry said an attack on an international military supply convoy sparked a gunbattle that killed at least eight insurgents, two police officers and a private security guard.

———

7/18/09 Update

Taliban releases video showing captive U.S. soldier in Afghanistan (AP, July 18, 2009) — The American soldier who went missing June 30 from his base in eastern Afghanistan and was later confirmed captured, appeared on a video posted Saturday to a Web site by the Taliban, two U.S. defense officials confirmed. The soldier is shown in the 28-minute video with his head shaved and the start of a beard. … Full story

———

Related report on this site

Captured U.S. Soldier Identified (July 19, 2009)

———

TERRORISM

Coordinated twin blasts hit Ritz-Carlton and J.W. Marriott hotels in Jakarta

Video

Deadly blasts rock Indonesia hotels (NBC Today, July 17, 2009) — Two suicide blasts, just minutes apart, ripped through two luxury hotels in Jakarta, killing at least nine people and injuring dozens. Police say the suspects posed as guests before setting off the explosions. NBC’s Ian Williams reports. (02:11)

———

FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago Today — July 17, 2008

On the Campaign Trail: Day Three

One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on the third day of my 2008 campaign against incumbent U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann for the Republican nomination in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, I was interviewed by Tim Pugmire of Minnesota Public Radio.

Republican Challenges Bachmann

By Tim Pugmire
Minnesota Public Radio
Morning Edition
July 17, 2008

Listen to audio

Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is facing a primary election contest in the 6th District. The challenge comes from college professor Aubrey Immelman, who says he entered the race to give GOP voters an alternative, conservative candidate this year.

St. Paul, Minn. — During the past year and a half, Aubrey Immelman of Sartell says he has heard several questionable public statements from Rep. Michele Bachmann.

Immelman says Bachmann showed a weakness on national security issues last year when she claimed knowledge of a secret plan to partition Iraq. […]

“I did not oppose initially the invasion of Iraq because I had no reason not to trust the president and the Secretary of State, Colin Powell at the time,” he said. “And it’s only in 2004 that the truth began to come out about the cherry-picked intelligence and so on that I turned against the U.S. involvement in Iraq.”

Following a recent news conference on energy issues, Bachmann said she welcomed Immelman to the race. […]

Steve Frank, a political science professor at St. Cloud State University, says Immelman appears to be a serious candidate, but he faces long odds. […]





8 Responses to “3 Dead in Attack on Base in Iraq”
  1. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    A Personal Reminiscence

    When I reported the Basra attack on this blog in the early hours of July 17, I had no inkling the casualties were citizen soldiers from Minnesota. So it’s been particularly painful to report the deaths of Carlos Wilcox, Danny Drevnick, and James Wertish.

    It’s doubly difficult because U.S. casualties in Iraq have been down drastically since we withdrew from urban areas at the end of June.

    Since we effectively garrisoned our combat forces, we’ve suffered just one casualty, Army Pvt. Lucas M. Bregg of the 1st Cavalry Division, who died July 8 in Baghdad in a non-combat related incident. (During the same period, we lost 24 of our troops in Afghanistan.)

    I’ve blogged about the Iraq war for the past five years and have documented hundreds of U.S. casualties, each one a tragedy, but this one is particularly personal.

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » War Comes Home to Minnesota Says:

    […] 3 Dead in Attack on Base in Iraq (July 17, 2009) […]

  3. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Captured U.S. Soldier Identified Says:

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