Topeka The Pentagon has announced the deaths of two more soldiers from Fort Riley, bringing to 97 the number of its soldiers killed since the war began.
Both soldiers were with the 4th Brigade Special Troop Battalion, 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. The soldiers deployed to Iraq in February for a 15-month tour of duty.
Killed were 1st Lt. Ryan P. Jones, 23, of Westminster, Mass., and Spc. Astor A. Sunsin-Pineda, 20, of Long Beach, Calif. The soldiers died Wednesday from wounds received when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb. Both soldiers were combat engineers, who typically are responsible for clearing routes of roadside bombs or other explosive devices on the battlefield.
Jones joined the Army in May 2005 and began serving with 1st Infantry in December 2005. Sunsin-Pineda joined the Army in August 2005 and joined 1st Infantry in January 2006. This was the first combat deployment for both.
Westminster Town Clerk Denise MacAloney, a family friend, said Jones was the only child of Kevin and Elaine Jones. She said he urged the lieutenant's mother to send care packages to his unit.
"His mother has received thank-you notes in the last few days from his men saying what a great platoon leader he was and how lucky they were to have him," MacAloney said.
Jones graduated from Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School in 2001 and Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 2005 with a degree in civil engineering. He was involved in ROTC in high school and college, MacAloney said.
More than 6,000 Fort Riley soldiers are deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, with more scheduled to deploy later this year. Earlier this week, a military police company left for Iraq.
The death toll includes Fort Riley active duty soldiers, as well as members of reserve forces who have mobilized at the post before being deployed to Iraq.