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Army Spc. Charles E. Bilbrey Jr.

Died July 26, 2007 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

21, of Owego, N.Y.; assigned to the 5th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.; died July 26 in Saqlawiyah, Iraq, of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Also killed were Sgt. William R. Howdeshell and Spc. Jaime Rodriguez Jr.

Owego soldier killed in Iraq

The Associated Press

OWEGO, N.Y. — A 21-year-old soldier whose goal was to become an Army Ranger was among three soldiers killed in Saqlawiyah, Iraq when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle.

Spc. Charles Bilbrey Jr., 21, of Owego, who enlisted before his final year of high school, died July 26, along with Sgt. William Howdeshell, 37, of Norfolk, Va., and Spc. Jaime Rodriguez, 19, of Oxnard, Calif., the Department of Defense said July 29.

Bilbrey deployed in January with the 5th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division, based in Fort Stewart, Ga. Soon after arriving he asked his family to send candy to give to Iraqi children.

“This place looks like Dr. Seuss built it,” he told his mother, Barbara, in a phone call after landing in Kuwait.

The soldier’s father, Charles Sr., said his son’s captain told him Bilbrey had volunteered for a dangerous assignment.

The captain “referred to him as a soldier’s soldier. He had no fear of anything. I think that’s why he volunteered for these risky missions,” the father said.

Bilbrey will be buried in Owego with a full military service, his parents said. Details had not been finalized.

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