Bragg Regroups After 9 Troops Killed by Car Bomb
Posted April 23, 2007 11:21 p.m. EDT
Updated April 24, 2007 9:17 p.m. EDT
Fort Bragg, N.C. — Nine Fort Bragg paratroopers were killed and an additional 20 were injured Monday in a suicide car bombing against a patrol base in the Diyala province of northeast Iraq, a volatile area that has been the site of fierce fighting, the military said.
The nine 82nd Airborne Division casualties marked the single greatest loss of life for soldiers from Fort Bragg in more than five years of simultaneous deployment, base officials said. It also was the second time this month that the same unit has suffered multiple losses in action.
"We've lost nine brave paratroopers, and nine families are suffering right now," said Maj. Tom Earnhardt, Fort Bragg spokesman. "It's our job to take care of them."
An insurgent group that includes al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility for the bombing, which occurred about 35 miles northeast of Baghdad. The Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella group of Sunni militants that includes al-Qaida in Iraq, said in a Web posting Tuesday that it was behind Monday's attack.
The soldiers were members of the division's 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, working under the 25th Command in north-central Iraq. The troops have been in Iraq since August.
Base officials met with families Monday night and are making all base resources available.
The names of those killed weren't released as of Tuesday afternoon, but a Benson man is believed to be among the casualties.
Sgt. Clint Moore, 27, of Benson was killed in the attack, according to his uncle, Ricky Moore. Clint Moore was a graduate of South Johnston High School.
On April 7, the Department of Defense said four soldiers from the 5th Squadron of the 73rd Cavalry Regiment were killed in Zaganiyah, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near their unit. One of those soldiers, Spc. Ebe F. Emolo, 33, was from Greensboro.
Last month, seven Fort Bragg paratroopers were killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. The Iraq War has claimed the lives of 119 Fort Bragg troops to date.
Monday was the deadliest day for Fort Bragg personnel since a 1994 training accident crash at Pope Air Force Base killed 23 troops.
"We regroup by doing what comes naturally -- we band together," Earnhardt said. "Typically, paratroopers get stronger as times get tougher.
"This community is a tight-knit community," he said. "Things like this tend to get hard here, especially for those of us who are back here knowing what our brothers are facing forward."
The attack came on a day when insurgents struck across Iraq, carrying out seven other bombings that killed at least 48 people.
Of the 20 soldiers wounded in the attack on Task Force Lightning in Diyala, 15 were treated and returned to duty, while five others were evacuated to a medical facility for further care, the military said. An Iraqi civilian was also wounded.
It was the second bold attack against a U.S. base north of Baghdad in just over two months and was notable for its use of a suicide car bomber.
On Feb. 19, insurgents struck a U.S. combat post in Tarmiyah, about 30 miles north of Baghdad, killing two soldiers and wounding 17 in what the military called a "coordinated attack."
It began with a suicide car bombing. Soldiers were then pinned down by gunfire in a former Iraqi police station where fuel storage tanks were set ablaze by the blast.
Militants have mostly used hit-and-run ambushes, roadside bombs or mortars on U.S. troops and stayed away from direct assaults on fortified military compounds to avoid U.S. firepower.