Thursday, June 2, 2005

Four in 155th killed in Iraq

The Mississippi National Guard announced last week the deaths of four soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom as members of the 155th Brigade Combat Team. The deaths brought the losses from the 155th since January this year to 10, according to radio news sources.

Specialist Audrey D. Lunsford, 29, of Sardis, Staff Sgt. Saburant Parker, 43, of Foxworth, and Spc. Daniel R. Varnado, 23 of Saucier died on May 23 when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle. A fourth soldier, Pfc. Bryan Edward Barron, of Gulfport, was also killed during the incident.

The soldiers died when a bomb exploded in Hasawa, about 30 miles south of Baghdad, according to a Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal report May 25.

Lunsford, the father of an 8-month-old daughter, had served in the Army four years before joining the National Guard in December. He had worked as a fireman at the Batesville Fire Department and Sardis Police Department.

“This is another tragic loss for the citizens of Mississippi,” said Governor Haley Barbour. “Marsha and I pray daily for our troops overseas, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of these brave soldiers.”

Maj. Gen. Harold A. Cross, adjutant general of Mississippi, called the deaths a “huge tragedy, not only for the families here at home, but for the other members of the 155th in Iraq.”

“I ask that all Mississippians pray for the families of these heroes that have paid the ultimate sacrifice for this state and nation,” he said.

Thirty-five hundred soldiers of the 155th have been deployed in Iraq following a call-up last spring. They come from 49 communities in Mississippi and from other communities in Arkansas and Vermont.

The 155th is attached to the II Marine Expeditionary Force and operates in Karbala, Najaf and Babil provinces in Iraq, according to the Daily Journal. Soldiers of the 155th received training in Camp Shelby and in California last year before being deployed in January.

Soldiers with the National Guard Armory in Holly Springs and Hernando are among those deployed with the 155th Brigade headquartered in Tupelo.

Sources for this story included a May 25 news release from Cross’ office in Jackson and an article written by Holbrook Mohr with the Associated Press published in the May 25 Daily Journal.

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