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Army Pvt. Johnathon M. Millican

Died January 20, 2007 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

20, of Trafford, Ala.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, Alaska; died Jan. 20 in Karbala, Iraq, from wounds sustained when his patrol was ambushed while conducting dismounted operations. Also killed were Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, Spc. Johnathan B. Chism and Pfc. Shawn P. Falter.

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Alabama soldier among 4 slain in sneak attack

The Associated Press

LOCUST FORK, Ala. — An Alabama soldier was among four U.S. soldiers abducted and killed during a sneak attack in Iraq that was confirmed by the Pentagon on Jan. 26, but the military apparently did not tell his wife and family about the abduction at first.

Army Pfc. Johnathan Millican, 20, a 2005 graduate of Locust Fork High School, was among the four listed as being abducted and killed in the Jan. 20 strike in Karbala.

While Millican’s family and friends initially understood from the military that the troops died in an ambush, the Pentagon said Jan. 26 that the four were abducted in a sophisticated attack and then killed.

Linda Hill, a close friend of the family, said Shannon Millican was talking with her husband by Web cam from Iraq on Jan. 20 when something happened on his end.

“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. “A casualty officer came later and told her what had happened.”

Hill said she received a call from Shannon informing her that Millican had been killed.

“The way she understood it was an SUV had come through that they thought was American military,” Hill said. “When it came through, it went up to the building they were trying to secure and there was a bomb, and that’s the way they were killed.”

Hill said there were also rumors of a possible rocket-propelled grenade attack but that no one was positive what happened. She had not heard anything of a possible abduction.

Millican, a friend of Hill’s son, lived with Hill and her family for about 2 1/2 years before graduating from high school, where he began dating Shannon. Hill said she also has talked with the military about Millican’s death because he was like part of her family.

“He called me ‘Mom.’ He sent me a Mother’s Day card,” she said.

Not knowing details of Millican’s death only makes it tougher to deal with, she said.

“We haven’t been notified of anything yet. We were told that there was an investigation going on,” Hill said.

The military said Millican was among four U.S. soldiers who were abducted during a sophisticated sneak attack. It said three were shot to death and a fourth was mortally wounded by a gunshot to the head when the soldiers were found in a neighboring province, far from the compound where they were captured.

Two of the four were handcuffed together in the back seat of an SUV, and a third dead soldier was on the ground nearby. The fourth soldier died on the way to the hospital.

Millican, a member of an airborne artillery brigade, had been in Iraq about three months. The former high school football player was based at Fort Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska, where his wife lives.

Shannon Millican is headed home to Alabama, where her husband’s funeral will be held when the military releases his remains, Hill 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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