Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Justin R. Blackwell dies 'of wounds suffered from enemy indirect fire'

A Tennessee soldier killed in a mortar attack while serving in Iraq had ties to the local area, as both of his parents graduated from the former Madison High School and relatives still live in the Antrim area.

U.S. Army Spec. Justin R. Blackwell, 27, of Paris, Tenn., died Sunday after being wounded in a mortar attack near Baghdad. He is the son of Steve and Hazel (King) Blackwell, also of Paris, Tenn.

Killed alongside Blackwell in the attack was Pvt. Jeremy S. Bohannon, 18, of Bon Aqua, Tenn., who was serving his first tour of duty in Iraq after enlisting in the Army last November.

Blackwell was serving his third tour of duty in Iraq when he was killed.

Both soldiers were assigned to the 59th Military Police Co., 759th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade at Fort Carson, Colo.

The Department of Defense confirmed the deaths Tuesday, bringing the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq to more than 3,680.

According to reports, Bohannon was driving a vehicle and Blackwell was serving as the gunner when their vehicle was struck during the mortar attack. They were transported to a local hospital, where they later died.

The soldiers were serving at a forward operating base in Baghdad.

Blackwell grew up in a military family and had served in the U.S. Army since 2000.

In addition to his parents, he is survived by his son, Joshua, born March 13, and his girlfriend, Allyson Riggen of Craig, Colo.; two daughters, Abby and Mackenzie, ages 8 and 2, from a previous marriage; and three brothers.

Blackwell's brother Nathan is currently serving with the U.S. Army and is also stationed at Fort Carson.

Riggen was quoted by the Associated Press as saying Blackwell "believed very much in what he was doing and he couldn't wait to go over there (Iraq), because he though he was helping people."

She described him as a jokester who loved country music and pro wrestling.

Blackwell was the third soldier from Henry County in western Tennessee to be killed in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

From the Daily Jeffersonian