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Army Capt. Brian S. Freeman

Died January 20, 2007 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

31, of Temecula, Calif.; assigned to the 412th Civil Affairs Battalion, Whitehall, Ohio; died Jan. 20 of wounds sustained when his meeting area came under attack by mortar and smalls-arms fire in Karbala, Iraq.

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Officer dies in ambush

The Associated Press

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — An Army Reserve captain who was working to help Iraqis start a beehive venture was among five Americans killed when his meeting was ambushed by gunmen dressed as U.S. troops, relatives said.

Capt. Brian Scott Freeman, 31, died Jan. 20 when his meeting area in the Shiite holy city of Karbala came under attack by mortar and small-arms fire, the Defense Department said Jan. 22. Defense officials did not immediately return calls seeking comment about the conditions surrounding the attack.

Freeman was assigned to the 412th Civil Affairs Battalion, based in Whitehall, Ohio, defense officials said.

Freeman was born in Bakersfield and moved to San Diego after his parents’ divorce, ultimately settling in Temecula, said the soldier’s father, Randy Freeman. The 1999 West Point graduate was on active reserve.

His awards include two Army Commendation Medals, two Army Achievement Medals, National Defense Service Medal and a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. He also earned Combat Action, Air Assault, Parachutist and Marksmanship Qualification badges, said a public affairs specialist with the Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne) in Fort Bragg, N.C.

In 2002, Freeman was accepted into the Army World Class Athlete Program at Fort Carson, which trains service members for Olympic teams. He earned a third place in the America’s Cup for bobsledding later that year, defense officials said.

The soldier is survived by his wife and two children, ages 3 and 1.

“He was just a real generous and loving son, loving father,” Randy Freeman said.

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A look at soldiers abducted, killed in Karbala sneak attack

The Associated Press

“You don’t have to love the war,” Pvt. Johnathon M. Millican wrote on his MySpace page, “but you have to love the warrior.”

He was one of four soldiers killed after militants abducted them Jan. 20 from the governor’s office in Karbala, Iraq, in a sophisticated sneak attack, the military confirmed Jan. 26.

The four soldiers, and a fifth killed in the attack itself, were remembered for their athleticism — one was a bobsledder who competed with the U.S. national team — their compassion and their dedication.

“He always wanted to be in the military,” said Karen Mezger, a friend of 1st Lt. Jacob Fritz’s family and a counselor at the rural Nebraska high school he attended. “He was there because he believed in it.”

The attackers posed as an American security team — speaking English, wearing U.S. military combat fatigues and traveling in the type of sport utility vehicles U.S. government convoys use, U.S. military and Iraqi officials said. The U.S. command initially reported that five soldiers were killed while “repelling the attack” but Jan. 26 confirmed reports from Iraqi officials that four of the soldiers had been taken alive.

Millican, 20, of Trafford, Ala., had been talking with his wife, Shannon, by Web cam the day he was abducted, said Linda Hill of Locust Fork, whom Millican lived with for 2" years before graduating high school.

“She heard somebody holler for them to run, and John took off. She said it was later that his computer was logged off,” Hill said. Hill said Shannon Millican told her that night her husband had been killed.

Millican, a former high school football player and a member of an airborne artillery brigade, had been in Iraq about three months.

Capt. Brian S. Freeman, who was not abducted but was killed in the attack, was a former member of the Army World Class Athlete Program who competed in bobsled and skeleton with the U.S. national team.

Freeman, 31, of Temecula, Calif., was 16th in the 2003 U.S. skeleton national championships and won a bronze medal as a four-man sled brakeman at a 2002 America’s Cup race.

Freeman was willing to ride with any driver to help them gain experience, “even if that meant crashing a few times,” U.S. Skeleton National Program Manager Steve Peters said Jan. 31. Many of the drivers he helped went on to compete in last year’s Olympics, he said.

Steven Holcomb, the World Cup overall bobsled leader and a 2006 Olympian who was in the WCAP program, called Freeman “one of the greatest men I have ever known.”

“The time I spent with Brian not only made me a better person, but a better athlete,” Holcomb said Jan. 31.

Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Neb., was a 2005 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy who played football and basketball and ran track in high school.

“He was just a very kind, caring, compassionate young man,” Mezger said in an interview Jan. 29.

Fritz’s 22-year-old brother, Daniel, will graduate from West Point next year, she said.

Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Homer, N.Y., followed three of his older brothers into the Army — all still on active duty but none currently in Iraq.

One of 13 brothers and sisters, Falter was remembered in his hometown as hardworking but easygoing.

“He knew how to lighten a moment just when you needed it,” Homer High School Principal Fred Farah said.

A military casualty assistance officer, Staff Sgt. Raymond Swift, answered the phone at Falter’s house Jan. 26 and said it was the first he had heard of the new details surrounding the deaths. He said the family would not be making any comments.

On Jan. 30, Swift released a statement in which Falter’s family thanked their community south of Syracuse for their love and support.

“We are extremely proud of Shawn’s service and sacrifice to our country,” his family said.

Spc. Johnathan Bryan Chism, 22, of Prairieville, La., was a Boy Scout who enjoyed skydiving and rock climbing and became an artillery specialist in the Army.

He “liked anybody and everybody,” his mother, Elizabeth Chism, said Jan. 28. He had been due to come home next month for two weeks of rest and recuperation, she said.

“Right now, we have not had any official word form the military” Chism’s sister, Julie Andexler, said when asked in a brief telephone interview about the Jan. 26 report. She said the family would have no other comment until they have been briefed by the military.

Freeman was assigned to the 412th Civil Affairs Battalion, based in Whitehall, Ohio. The other soldiers were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, Alaska.


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