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Army Spc. Justin R. Blackwell

Died August 5, 2007 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

27, of Paris, Tenn.; assigned to the 59th Military Police Company, 759th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade, Fort Carson, Colo.; died Aug. 5 in Baghdad of wounds sustained from enemy indirect fire. Also killed was Pfc. Jeremy S. Bohannon.

Soldier becomes 3rd from Henry Co. to die in Iraq war

The Associated Press

PARIS, Tenn. — An Army specialist from Paris was killed when his base in Iraq was hit in a mortar attack August 5, while an airman from Portland died of natural causes in Germany.

Justin Richard Blackwell, who was attached to a military police company, was stationed at one of the forward operating bases in Baghdad when the attack occurred August 5, his brother Nathan told The Paris Post-Intelligencer.

His death has not yet been announced by the Department of Defense.

The brother said Blackwell, 27, had been in the Army six years and is survived by two other brothers.

Blackwell is the third soldier from Henry County to be killed in the current war in Iraq. The others were 29-year-old Army Staff Sgt. Paul Anthony Velazquez, who was killed in 2003, and 20-year-old Marine Lance Cpl. William D. Spencer, who died last year.

Meanwhile, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joey D. Link, 29, Portland, Tenn., died August 5 of natural causes at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, the Department of Defense announced Monday.

The cause of death was not released. He was assigned to the 39th Airlift Squadron at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas.

2 Tenn. soldiers from same Colo. unit killed in Iraq

The Associated Press

BON AQUA, Tenn. — Two Tennessee soldiers in the same Colorado-based unit were killed in Iraq over the weekend, the Department of Defense announced August 7.

Army Spc. Justin R. Blackwell, 27, of Paris, and Army Pfc. Jeremy S. Bohannon, 18, of Bon Aqua, were both killed by indirect fire in Baghdad.

Both were assigned to the 59th Military Police Company, 759th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade, at Fort Carson, Colo.

Bohannon enlisted in the Army in November and was on his first tour of Iraq, just nine months into his military career.

Bohannon was driving a vehicle while Blackwell was acting as gunner, said Blackwell’s girlfriend, Allyson Riggen, who lives in Craig, Colo.

“He believed very much in what he was doing,” she said. “He couldn’t wait to go over there, because he thought he was helping people.”

Blackwell grew up in a military family and has a brother stationed at Fort Carson. It was his third tour in Iraq after joining the Army in 2000.

Blackwell was known as a jokester who loved country music and pro wrestling, Riggen told The Gazette of Colorado Springs. The couple had their first child, Joshua, on March 16 and planned to have two more, she said.

Blackwell had two daughters, 8 and 2, from previous marriages.

On his MySpace page, Blackwell said: “I’m a simple boy from Tennessee who likes country music and playing with my kids. I love you Abby, Mackenzie, and Josh. Daddy misses you all very much and I’ll be home with you guys before you know it.”

Another Tennessee serviceman, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joey Link of Portland, died August 5 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany of unspecified natural causes.

His family said Link, a member of the 39th Airlift Squadron, suddenly became ill after a trip to Africa. The cause of his death was not released. An autopsy is being performed.

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