Sunday, May 06, 2007

Kelly B. Grothe dies of injuries from I.E.D.

A soldier from Spokane was killed Thursday in Iraq after his armored vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb in Ramadi, according to the U.S. Army Reserve.

Cpl. Kelly Grothe, 21, was in a heavily armored vehicle taking part in a route-cleaning mission when the improvised explosive device went off, killing him and another soldier, Staff Sgt. Coby Schwab, of Henderson, Nev.

Five other soldiers from Spokane and North Idaho were wounded in the attack, though officials say their wounds are not serious. The soldiers serve with Company B of the 321st Engineer Battalion of the U.S. Army Reserve, which is headquartered in Boise.

The men were among 350 from the unit deployed in July to Iraq for a 1 1/2 year mission. Grothe, a 2004 Central Valley High School graduate, was one of six soldiers in the unit from the Spokane Valley-based 659th Engineer Battalion.

The mission of the 321st is to clear roadside bombs and to guard convoys. Since arriving in Iraq, they have defused or destroyed "several hundred" roadside bombs, said Lt. Wade Winegardner, commander of the company's rear detachment. These IEDs, as they are known, are often detonated by remote control and have become a weapon of choice against American forces in Iraq. Some are also detonated by infrared or magnetic triggers.

The unit was conducting a regular mission Thursday at about 8 p.m. Pacific time when an IED blew up and hit a vehicle, injuring five soldiers inside, Winegardner said. A second armored vehicle stopped to assist the soldiers when another IED went off, killing two soldiers inside the second vehicle.

The soldiers were traveling in vehicles specially equipped to withstand mines and explosives. "They're very heavily armored vehicles compared to the other ones out there," Winegardner said at a press conference Saturday afternoon at the McCarter Army Reserve Center in Hayden.

The deaths are believed to be the first suffered by the unit's Bravo Company since World War II.

From the Spokesman Review