7 U.S. Victims Of Ambush In Iraq Are From Fort Drum - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

7 U.S. Victims Of Ambush In Iraq Are From Fort Drum

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (AP) _ The seven American victims of a weekend ambush in Iraq were members of the 10th Mountain Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team, Army officials in Iraq said Tuesday.

The attack near Mahmoudiya, in a Sunni stronghold 20 miles south of Baghdad, left four U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi translator dead, and three other soldiers missing.

On Monday, the Pentagon acknowledged for the first time that it believes the missing soldiers are in terrorist hands. The Islamic State of Iraq _ an al-Qaida front group that has claimed to have captured the soldiers _ has warned the U.S. to stop its massive search for the missing.

Military officials have not released the names of the soldiers but confirmed they were assigned to Company D, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, nicknamed the ``Polar Bears,'' said Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie, a public affairs officer at the Multi-National Division headquarters in Baghdad.

Fort Drum commanders referred all questions about Saturday's incident to Army officials in Iraq.

Families of the soldiers released the names of two of the dead on Monday _ Sgt. 1st Class James David Connell Jr., 40, of Lake City, Tenn., and Pfc. Daniel Courneya, 19, of Vermontville, Mich.

Connell's family learned of his death Saturday afternoon, they said.

The soldier had just recovered from a shrapnel wound to the leg and had visited his family on leave earlier this month. The family is now planning a memorial service in Lake City and a burial at Arlington National Cemetery, according to his brother, Jeff Connell.

``I'm proud of my dad, because he didn't really fight for himself, he fought for the country,'' Connell's teenage daughter, Courtney, told Knoxville's WATE-TV.

In Michigan, students at Maple Valley High School created a memorial for Courneya, who graduated in 2005 and was well-known in the small community southwest of Lansing. He was a member of the school's track and soccer teams and played clarinet in the band.

``It's a tribute of photos, posters, plaques and a picture of him in his uniform,'' school official Kelly Zank told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

His death was announced Monday over the school's public address system, and a moment of silence was observed, she said.

Courneya's mother, Wendy Thompson, said his wife, Jennifer, called family members Saturday night to tell them he had been killed. Thompson said her husband, Army Spc. David Thompson, was in Iraq and returning home after learning of his stepson's death.

If all three soldiers now missing were taken alive, it would be the biggest single abduction of U.S. soldiers in Iraq since March 23, 2003, when Pvt. Jessica Lynch and six others were captured in an ambush near Nasiriyah that also left 11 Americans dead.
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