Army sergeant killed in Afghanistan

Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 17, 2011

She was an Army sergeant, based in Northern Virginia, and she was an Army dog handler. Last month, a cousin said, she posted pictures on the Internet of herself and the dog, costumed for Christmas, in Afghanistan.

Sgt. Zainah Caye Creamer, 28, who was based at Fort Belvoir, was in the military police, and she and her working dog, Jofa, were assigned to check vehicles and facilities for explosives, a Belvoir spokesman said. The two had gone to Afghanistan in October.

Creamer was killed Wednesday in Kandahar province when insurgents attacked her unit with an improvised explosive device, the Pentagon said.

Details of the incident were sketchy. But Don Carr, the Belvoir spokesman, said Creamer and the dog were doing their job, carrying out "a route and building clearance mission" when the blast occurred.

Creamer went to high school in Texarkana, Ark., and "always loved animals," her cousin, Samantha Creamer, said Sunday in an interview. Other interests included hunting and fishing, the cousin said, as well as the martial art of taekwondo.

She "absolutely loved being in the Army," the cousin said. She enjoyed serving, and she "loved her dog she had in the Army."

Samantha Creamer said that her cousin was often "smiling and laughing" and caring for others and that she rarely had a bad word for anybody. "Everybody that knew her loved her," the cousin said.

"'She touched a lot of people for the short amount of time she was on Earth," her cousin said. "That was her personality."

Her mother lives in the Philippines. A brother also survives.

Carr said Creamer had been a soldier for a little more than six years. She had been assigned to Belvoir since October 2009 and was in the 212th Military Police Detachment, part of Belvoir's headquarters battalion, he said.

While in Afghanistan, Creamer worked with the second battalion of the 502nd Infantry Regiment, Carr said.

He said he thought she had begun training with Jofa early last year in Texas.

She had previously been in Iraq, her cousin said. Her Afghanistan assignment was her first as a dog handler, Carr said.

After the blast Wednesday, he said, the dog was reportedly unhurt.

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