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Army Spc. Christopher A. Merville

Died October 12, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

26, of Albuquerque, N.M.; assigned to 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery, 2nd Infantry Division, Camp Hovey, Korea; killed Oct. 12th when his unit came under enemy fire during combat operations in Baghdad.

Albuquerque soldier killed in Iraq

By Matt Mygatt

Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The mother of an Albuquerque soldier killed in Iraq said Thursday her son was “a good friend to a lot of people and had a good sense of humor.”

Spc. Christopher Merville, 26, was the sixth New Mexico soldier to die in Iraq. He was killed Tuesday when his unit came under fire during combat operations in Baghdad, the Defense Department said Thursday.

Pat Merville of Edgewood said her son wanted to do his part after the sudden death of his father in 2001 and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He worked out for a year, enlisted and was shipped to Oklahoma for training, she said.

He was stationed in South Korea, where he became engaged to a woman from the Philippines, before his unit was shipped to Iraq.

He wrote his mother last month about being promoting and getting better pay.

“Now I can look forward to having a little more saved for when I finally return to American soil. That way I have something to start my foundation as a married man. Yikes!” he wrote.

He and his fiance had planned to be married during his next leave, Pat Merville said.

The soldier’s uncle, Herb Merville of Albuquerque, said Thursday Christopher Merville had been in Iraq only about five weeks.

“It was a real shocker to a family. ... It just really hit us hard,” he said.

He said his nephew, a graduate of Albuquerque’s Eldorado High School, began thinking about the military after his father died.

Merville joined the Army in February 2002, and in his 2" years with the military, he never returned to Albuquerque, Herb Merville said.

When the military decided it needed more troops in Iraq, his unit was transferred from Korea to Kuwait, “with no leave or anything,” Herb Merville said.

The unit had orientation for a month in Kuwait, then went to Iraq, he said.

Merville was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery, 2nd Infantry Division.

Flags in N.M. to fly at half-staff for slain soldier

SANTA FE — Gov. Bill Richardson has ordered flags around New Mexico flown at half-staff through Friday in honor of Spc. Christopher Merville of Albuquerque, who was killed in Iraq.

“On behalf of all New Mexicans, I extend my deepest sympathy and prayers to the family and friends of Spc. Christopher Andrew Merville,” the governor said.

“His sacrifice will not be forgotten,” said Richardson, who called Merville’s mother, Patricia, to extend his condolences.

Merville, 26, a graduate of Eldorado High School who had attended the University of New Mexico for a time, was killed Tuesday when his unit came under fire during combat operations in Baghdad.

Members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation also expressed their condolences to his family.

Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., said they were saddened by Merville’s death.

Domenici, noting the medals Merville had earned, said it was clear he “served his country with distinction.”

Udall said Merville’s commitment “was unequivocal.”

“As our soldiers bear much of the burden of battle, so, too, must our communities shoulder a greater burden of the grief. ... Christopher Merville, like those who preceded him in Iraq, was a hero in the truest sense,” he said.

— Associated Press

New Mexico soldier remembered as bright, committed

ALBUQUERQUE — When enemy fire in Iraq ended the life of 26-year-old Spc. Christopher Merville, friends and family say he died as the man he dreamed of becoming — an American solider.

“We celebrate a man who dedicated his life to giving us freedom,” the Rev. Arkad Biczak told some 200 mourners Saturday at Merville’s funeral. “He offered his own life on behalf of you and on behalf of me.”

The soldier from Albuquerque became the sixth New Mexico service member to die in Iraq when he received a fatal wound while riding in a Humvee during a mission near Baghdad on Oct. 12.

Mourners could see a photographic memorial of the gunner’s life Saturday as they entered John XXIII Catholic Church — snapshots of a baby in white diapers at the hospital nursery, and as a young man kissing his fiancee, Renabeth Luis, on the cheek.

The Eldorado High School honors graduate, who spent time at the University of New Mexico studying linguistics, was remembered for his sense of humor, intelligence and service.

“He was really a young man who dedicated his life to being a loving person,” said Biczak, remembering a boy who received his first Holy Communion at the church and a young man who talked about the desire to serve his country after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Merville was part of the 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery, 2nd Infantry Division stationed at Camp Hovey, South Korea, and assigned to duties in Iraq.

His flag-draped casket, carried by soldiers in dress uniforms, arrived for Mass to a chorus of “Amazing Grace.”

At the burial, his mother, Pat Merville, was presented with the soldier’s Good Conduct and Army Commendation medals. The Purple Heart and Bronze Star were presented posthumously.

“He was a great soldier,” said Brig. Gen. Joseph Orr, deputy commanding general at Fort Carson, Colo. “He took the calling to serve the nation in defense of our freedom. I think that speaks volumes of him as a young man.”

— Associated Press

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