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Army Spc. Carrie L. French

Died June 5, 2005 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

19, of Caldwell, Idaho; assigned to the 145th Support Battalion, Idaho Army National Guard, Boise, Idaho; attached to the 116th Brigade Combat Team; killed June 5 when an improvised explosive device hit the front of her convoy vehicle and detonated in Kirkuk, Iraq.

Idaho soldier dies in Iraq explosion

The Idaho Statesman

Spc. Carrie L. French, 19, of Caldwell, died Sunday in Kirkuk, Iraq, when an improvised explosive exploded and hit a convoy vehicle in which she was riding.

French was assigned to the Army National Guard’s 145th Support Battalion, Boise, Idaho.

“Carrie was a fun-loving young woman with a warm heart and a desire to serve,” the family said in a statement. “She was loved by everyone who knew her and she will be dearly missed.”

“The Idaho National Guard military family is terribly saddened at the loss of Spc. Carrie French,” said Maj. Gen. Larry Lafrenz, Idaho adjutant general. “Her sacrifice brings home ever so clearly the fact that freedom is never free.”

“This gallant and heroic young woman will always be remembered for her love of country and state and for her unwavering commitment to those principles that have preserved for all of us those freedoms we so cherish. All of us extend to Carrie’s family and many friends our deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences.”

She is survived by her mother, Paula Hylinsky, and her father, Rick French.

Father says daughter died doing what she loved

BOISE, Idaho — The father of the first female soldier from Idaho killed in Iraq says his daughter loved the outdoors and hoped to attend college and law school after her tour of duty.

But future plans for Spc. Carrie L. French, 19, ended June 5 when the Caldwell High School graduate and varsity cheerleader was killed in the northern city of Kirkuk by an improvised explosive device.

French served as an ammunition specialist with the 116th Brigade Combat Team’s 145th Support Battalion. She was posthumously promoted to corporal.

French said his daughter had an adventurous spirit and loved the outdoors. She had plans to travel Europe and study law after her tour of duty in Iraq.

For her high school graduation gift she asked her father to take her skydiving.

“She was willing to try anything, really,” Rick French said.

French was the seventh soldier from the 116th to die in Iraq, the Idaho National Guard’s largest active deployment.

Since her death, Marine Lance Cpl. Dustin V. Birch, 22, of Saint Anthony, died June 9 in Haqlaniyah, a volatile Sunni Arab stronghold located in the Anbar province.

Fourteen Idaho soldiers have been killed since the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Rick French said his daughter joined the Idaho National Guard to help pay for college. She was nervous about going to Iraq but proud to serve.

He said she died doing what she wanted to do.

“I was scared (when she deployed), but I was very, very proud of her,” he said. “She’s my hero.”

— Associated Pres

Hometown bids farewell to fallen Idaho soldier

CALDWELL, Idaho — The first female Idaho soldier to die in Iraq was honored in her hometown Wednesday with a military funeral, and remembered as a daughter, a high school cheerleader and a patriot.

Cpl. Carrie French, 19, died June 5 when a roadside bomb hit her fuel truck in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk. Posthumously promoted to corporal from specialist, she was awarded at least nine medals, including the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

French is “an American hero,” said Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, who was asked to speak at the funeral by French’s family.

The governor assured her loved ones she wouldn’t be forgotten. She is part of a U.S. military history that stretches from Lexington, Mass., where the American Revolution began in 1775, to Vietnam and Iraq, he said.

“I hope that every time Carrie’s family sees the American flag, they think of her. She is one of the reasons the flag still flies,” Kempthorne said.

French’s boyfriend, Spc. Matt Harvey, remembered a proud, caring person with an almost constant smile.

“I knew after our first date that she wasn’t just another person passing through my life,” said Harvey, a National Guard gunner who was stationed in Kirkuk with French.

More than two dozen flower arrangements surrounded French’s coffin, which was draped with an American flag. Nearby, on the Jewett Auditorium stage at Albertson College of Idaho, a “Fallen Soldier Monument” was erected using French’s dog tags, rifle, boots and combat helmet.

Family and friends made several large collages of photos chronicling her life from infancy to her 6 months and 5 days in Iraq. In one faded color picture, she’s dressed as a glow-worm for Halloween. In another, she poses in a blue varsity cheerleading uniform at the 50-yard line of the football field at Caldwell High.

She never expected to be sent to Iraq — she thought she was bound for a peacekeeping mission, not the combat zone, Harvey said. But loved ones say she accepted her assignment with courage and some trepidation.

“She was always smiling, and the day she left, there were no smiles,” her father, Rick French, told the Idaho Press-Tribune earlier this week. “You could tell she was scared. Sending an 18-year-old girl overseas should be scary. It is scary.”

Among the 800 people who attended the service were uniformed members of the Idaho National Guard 116th Brigade Combat Team’s 145th Support Battalion, the unit French joined to earn money for college.

In addition to her father, French is survived by her mother, Paula Hylinski, and two sisters. She is one of at least 1,706 U.S. military members who have died since the war began in 2003, according to an Associated Press count. Fourteen soldiers from Idaho have died in the conflict.

French, who turned 19 on Feb. 28 in Iraq, was baptized as a Christian there to the staccato sound of small-arms fire.

Phil Pittman, the pastor of First Baptist Church in New Plymouth who presided at the funeral service, says he barely knew her. But he was allowed to read passages of her diary, and believes she turned to religion while training at Fort Polk, La.

“She was searching for something,” Pittman told a reporter after the service.

French was buried at Canyon Hill Cemetery.

— Associated Press

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