Oregon National Guard loses three in Friday blasts

PORTLAND, Ore. – A carefully planned ambush on a dusty road in Baghdad killed three Oregon National Guard soldiers on Friday and gravely injured a fourth, in the single worst loss for the state since the war in Iraq began.

All four had volunteered for duty in Iraq before their unit was called up, said guard spokesman Maj. Arnold Strong. Among the dead was the son of a ranking Oregon National Guard official. Two of the three had married in the months before their deployment.

“This is one of the largest catastrophes we’ve had in years,” Strong said. When news of the deaths reached headquarters Friday, senior officers closed their doors and cried, he said.

The ambush began with a roadside bomb destroying the lead Humvee in a column, Strong said, killing two military police from New Jersey, one of whom had survived the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York two years and nine months before dying in Iraq.

The Oregon soldiers were in a second Humvee. They drove to the first vehicle and jumped out onto the road to provide first aid when a second bomb exploded, according to an account of the ambush by Capt. Scott Hildebrandt, company commander of D Company, 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry.

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