Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Ronnie L. Sanders dies of injuries from I.E.D.

A soldier from Shreveport, a 1999 graduate of Woodlawn High School, died this weekend in Iraq, according to his grandmother.

Army Staff Sgt. Ronnie L. Sanders, a transportation unit member in his third tour of the war-torn country, had just returned to Iraq from visiting his wife, Rachel, and newborn twins at Fort Bragg, N.C., said his grandmother Juanita Sanders of the Queensborough neighborhood.

"He had just gone back," Sanders said of her 26-year-old grandson.

She said her grandson had planned to make the military a career but was rethinking his options since the birth of his twin daughters four months ago.

"After his babies were born, he wasn't too sure. He did not want to go back to Iraq. He didn't want to leave his babies."

Late Monday, the Pentagon released details of Sanders' death.

The military said Sanders, which it listed as being from Thibodaux, died Saturday in Baghdad "of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle."

Sanders was assigned to the 407th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg.

Ronnie Sanders enlisted in the Army after graduating from Woodlawn High. He was featured in The Times' "Front and Center" column in May 2000 after graduating from motor transport training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

Juanita Sanders said her daughter Ruth Ann Manley, of Arlington, Texas, has traveled to North Carolina to be with Rachel Sanders and the couple's children.

Juanita Sanders said her grandson will be buried in Shreveport, but funeral details are incomplete.

Ronnie Sanders is the third soldier from Woodlawn High to die in the war on terror. The others are Army Staff Sgts. George Ray Draughn Jr. and Troy Ezernack. Draughn, 29, was killed in a bomb blast Sept. 1, 2005, in Iraq. Ezernack, 39, died Oct. 9, 2005, in a grenade attack in Afghanistan.

"All of them are so young. That's what so tragic about it," Juanita Sanders said. "My grandson — I was so proud of him."

Woodlawn High also lost four of its graduates in the Vietnam War: Edward Cox, Glenn Ogburn, Harold O'Neal and Henry "Trey" Prather.

From the Shreveport Times