By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 16, 2007 – The Defense Department yesterday released the names and units of seven U.S. Army soldiers who were killed or reported missing when their squad was ambushed by enemy forces May 12 near Mahmudiyah, Iraq.
During a Baghdad news conference today, Army Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, Multinational Force Iraq spokesman, extended his condolences to the soldiers' families, adding that the search for the three missing soldiers continues. Efforts also continue to make a positive identification of one of the deceased soldiers, whose duty status is for now listed along with the three missing soldiers as whereabouts unknown, the two-star general said.
Army soldiers identified as killed in the attack are:
Sgt. 1st Class James D. Connell Jr., 40, of Lake City, Tenn.;
Pfc. Daniel W. Courneya, 19, of Nashville, Mich.; and
Pfc. Christopher E. Murphy, 21, of Lynchburg, Va.
Army soldiers listed as duty status whereabouts unknown are:
Sgt. Anthony J. Schober, 23, of Reno, Nev.;
Spc. Alex R. Jimenez, 25, of Lawrence, Mass.;
Pfc. Joseph J. Anzack Jr., 20, of Torrance, Calif.; and
Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Mich.
All of the U.S. soldiers belong to the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Drum, N.Y. In Iraq, the soldiers came under Multinational Division Center. Caldwell said he couldn't guarantee that the ongoing search for the missing soldiers would end in the most positive manner. "I cannot promise you the result that we're all praying for," the general said. "But, I can promise you that we and our Iraqi counterparts are doing absolutely everything we can to find our soldiers."
The soldiers went missing after a convoy carrying seven U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi army interpreter was ambushed by enemy forces as it traveled west of Mahmudiyah, Iraq, during a search for roadside bombs. The attack site is located about 20 miles south of Baghdad. Local Iraqis have provided more than 140 tips and reports regarding the missing soldiers, Caldwell said, noting 37 specific operations related to the search have been conducted from that information.
The search area is divided into 35 zones, Caldwell said, noting operations have been conducted in 32 of those zones. More than 600 people have been questioned, he said, while 11 or so have been detained for further questioning. One U.S. soldier has been wounded during the search operations, Caldwell said. "Those operations are still ongoing," Caldwell said. He added that thousands of U.S., coalition and Iraqi forces are involved in the effort and that some previously searched areas have been or are being reexamined.