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Army Spc. Michael M. Merila

Died February 16, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

23, of Sierra Vista, Ariz.; assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, Fort Lewis, Wash.; died Feb. 16 when his convoy was hit by an improvised explosive device in Talifar, Iraq.

Sierra Vista soldier killed in Iraq

Associated Press

SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. — A 23-year-old soldier from Sierra Vista was killed in northern Iraq by a roadside bombing.

Army Spc. Michael M. Merila was wounded Monday when his convoy was hit by an explosive. He was assigned to Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment at Fort Lewis, the Defense Department said.

“Matt was a good solid student. One of our better students,” said Buena High School Assistant Principal Elaine Carlson.

Merila’s death was the first of a Stryker soldier from hostile fire since the 5,000-member brigade crossed into Iraq in early December, The News Tribune of Tacoma, Wash., reported. Eight others have been killed in accidents.

Merila’s convoy was returning to base after leaving Mosul Airfield, where it had dropped off the first batch of soldiers on their way home for 20 days of leave. Merila died while being flown to an Army combat support hospital, the News Tribune reported. One other Stryker soldier hurt in the explosion was treated for a shrapnel wound to the arm.

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