Pentagon Identifies Two Soldiers Whose Bodies Were Found in Iraq
Saturday, July 12, 2008
The Pentagon announced yesterday that it has identified the bodies of two U.S. soldiers recovered in Iraq earlier this month, nearly 14 months after they went missing after being ambushed by insurgents south of Baghdad.
Sgt. Alex R. Jimenez, 25, of Lawrence Mass., and Pfc. Byron W. Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Mich., were struck near the village of Al Taqa on May 12, 2007, when insurgents attacked using automatic weapons and roadside bombs. In all, seven soldiers from the Army's 10th Mountain Division based in Fort Drum, N.Y., perished.
The U.S. military in Iraq said the remains were located after Special Operations Forces captured an individual on July 1 who had information about where the soldiers were buried. The information led investigators to a location west of Jurf as Sakhr, where the remains were recovered on July 8.
Families and friends of the long-missing soldiers gathered yesterday to remember their loved ones.
The father of Jimenez gathered at a veterans center in Lawrence, Mass., with several dozen neighbors, friends and other supporters, including Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.). "They're coping, they're dealing with this as best they can," said Lawrence Veterans Services Director Francisco Urena, serving as the family's spokesman.
"Even though they're always prepared for the worst, it's a shock," Urena said, noting that Jimenez's father, Ramon "Andy" Jimenez, "is very emotional, dealing with a lot of emotions. It's the last thing he wanted to deal with."
Urena said Andy Jimenez has two other sons in Orlando and two in New York, but he lived in Lawrence alone with Alex.
"It's a very sad relief," said Gordon Dibler Jr., of Oxford, Mich., in a telephone interview. He is Fouty's stepfather. "We rehearsed this every day, every scenario I could think of on how he would come home. This is not what we wanted, of course."
In suburban Detroit, teachers and friends recalled Fouty as a hero, and his school praised his "huge impact" on the community.
Fouty's kidnapping and death "brings the war home," said David Barry, the principal of Walled Lake Central High School, which Fouty attended, adding that yellow ribbons hung around the school and grounds are still there.
Fouty joined the Army in June 2006, after earning his general equivalency diploma, as a way to better himself and earn a free college education, friends say.
"I've taught well over 4,000 kids, and Byron stands out. . . . Byron is a very, very joyful man," said Beth Rexroat, Fouty's high school drama teacher.