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Archive for Thursday, August 19, 2004

Another Fort Riley soldier killed

Sergeant was fort’s third fatality this week in Iraq

August 19, 2004

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— A soldier from Fort Riley has been killed in Iraq, the third fatality from the post in less than a week, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Sam Robinson, a spokeswoman for the post, said Sgt. David M. Heath, 30, of La Porte, Ind., was killed Monday near Sadr City when his patrol came under a small arms and rocket-propelled grenade attack. Heath was with Company B, 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division.

Heath is the third member of the battalion to die in Iraq since fighting began in March 2003. He joined the Army in September 2001 and had been at Fort Riley since March 2002.

The battalion is in its second tour in Iraq. About 900 soldiers returned to Iraq in June.

Heath had a previous tour in Iraq in 2003, and his parents live in LaPorte, according to WSBT-TV of South Bend. He is also survived by his wife, Donna, son, Derek, 8, and stepdaughter, Angela Riffel, 13, all of Fort Riley.

"It's just a tragedy," said David Riffel Sr., Angela's grandfather and assistant pastor of the LaPorte First Church of the Nazarene. "He was super good to my granddaughter, and she loved him very much," Riffel told the Post-Tribune of Merrillville.

Two soldiers from the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division died over the weekend.

On Friday, 1st Lt. Neil A. Santoriello, 24, of Verona, Pa., was killed in Khalidiyah when a bomb detonated near his patrol. He was a member of the 1st Battalion, 34th Armored, 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, which deployed to Iraq in September 2003.

On Sunday, Sgt. Daniel Michael Shepherd, 23, died in Ar Ramabi after his M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle hit a homemade bomb. He served with the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, also part of the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division.

Pearl Speer, the post's community services director, said families on post were feeling a great deal of stress as some soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division start to come home, while those in the 1st Armored Division just got to Iraq or are training to deploy soon.

"All of the casualties are tragic, but there seems to be an added element of concern when they're this close to coming home," Speer said. "It does affect the family members."

The first 100 soldiers from the brigade were to arrive at Fort Riley on Wednesday, with the remaining soldiers arriving through October. About 4,200 Fort Riley soldiers are in Iraq.

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