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Army Spc. Robert Oliver Unruh

Died September 25, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom


25, of Tucson, Ariz.; assigned to the 44th Engineer Battalion, Camp Howze, Korea; killed Sept. 25 by small-arms fire when enemy forces attacked his unit in Anbar province, Iraq.

Tucson soldier killed in Iraq

Associated Press

TUCSON, Ariz. — A 25-year-old Army specialist from Tucson has been killed in action in Iraq.

The Department of Defense said Sept. 27 that Spc. Robert Oliver Unruh died Sept. 25 in Anbar province when his unit was attacked with small arms fire.

No other details were immediately released.

Unruh was a member of the 44th Engineer Battalion stationed at Camp Howze, South Korea.

Unruh held the hazardous job of combat engineer.

He was the son of Karen Unruh-Wahrer, who works in respiratory care at University Medical Center.

Unruh’s family declined comment Sept. 27 through Fort Huachuca.

Maj. Beth Robbins, an Army spokeswoman at the Pentagon, said Unruh was single and joined the Army when he was in his early 20s.

He enlisted in November 2002.

U.S. soldiers stationed in Korea normally are not sent into combat, but the demands of the Iraq war changed that.

When Congress recently authorized an additional 20,000 troops for Iraq, Unruh’s unit was among those ordered to answer the call.

His battalion was part of the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, which shipped about 3,600 soldiers to Iraq last month.

David Dunford, a former U.S. ambassador to the Middle East who traveled to Korea recently to give cultural-awareness training to the leaders of Unruh’s brigade, said the unit’s soldiers were headed for Ramadi in the Sunni Triangle, where U.S. troops have sustained numerous casualties.

Dunford, of Tucson, doesn’t recall meeting Unruh but said he spoke with many soldiers from the unit and they seemed somber about their mission.

“They knew they were going into a dangerous area and that there was a chance some of them wouldn’t come back,” Dunford said.

As a combat engineer, Unruh’s job involved supporting front-line troops and helping them move safely across foreign territory.

Duties of a combat engineer include locating land mines, placing and detonating explosives plus building roads, trails, bridges, bunkers and gun emplacements.


Soldier killed in Iraq followed family military tradition

TUCSON, Ariz. — Relatives of a 25-year-old soldier from Tucson killed in action in Iraq say they take comfort that he died honorably serving his country.

Spc. Robert Oliver Unruh died Saturday in Iraq’s Anbar province when his unit was attacked with small arms fire, according to the Department of Defense.

Unruh was a member of the 44th Engineer Battalion stationed at Camp Howze, South Korea.

He held the hazardous job of combat engineer and had been in Iraq less than a month when he was killed.

“I’m very proud of Robbie,” his mother, Karen Unruh-Wahrer, said Tuesday. “He knew the risks he was taking by going to Iraq.”

“He gave his life so other people could live under the freedom of democracy,” added his father, Dennis Wahrer.

Unruh was born in Texas and grew up in Virginia, where he graduated from high school in 1998.

His family moved to Tucson afterward, and Unruh followed in 2002.

Unruh joined the Army at a local recruiting office shortly after the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to his family.

He had been living in Virginia not far from the Pentagon when the attacks occurred and felt the impact deeply, said Unruh-Wahrer, who works in respiratory care at University Medical Center.

Unruh was the latest of a long line of relatives to join the military, dating to his great-grandfathers who served in both world wars.

As a combat engineer, Unruh’s job involved supporting front-line troops and helping them move safely across foreign territory.

Duties of a combat engineer include locating land mines and placing and detonating explosives, as well as building roads, trails, bridges, bunkers and gun emplacements.

Unruh-Wahrer said her son chose the risky line of work in tribute to one of his grandfathers, who also was a combat engineer.

She said her son will receive the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his actions in Iraq.

— Associated Press

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