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Army Spc. Ronald J. Tucker

Died April 30, 2008 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

21, of Fountain, Colo.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died April 30 in Baghdad of wounds sustained when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. Also killed was Capt. Andrew R. Pearson.

Billings soldier killed in Iraq

By Matthew Brown

The Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont. — A 32-year-old Army captain from Billings has been killed after his vehicle was hit by an explosion in Iraq, officials said.

The Department of Defense said Capt. Andrew R. Pearson, with the 4th Infantry Division from Fort Hood, Texas, was one of two soldiers killed in Wednesday’s blast from an improvised explosive device in Baghdad.

He is the 27th military service member from Montana to die so far in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the office of Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

Also killed in the Baghdad explosion was 21-year-old Spc. Ronald J. Tucker of Fountain, Colo. Their mission had been to train Iraqi forces.

Pearson joined the military in June 1998 and had been with the 4th Infantry since February 2007. His service awards included a Bronze Star.

Married and with four children, he had been deployed in March for a third tour of duty, after serving previously in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

“He believed in what he was doing and gave his all for America,” his father, Ron Pearson, said in an interview Friday. “He was very resolute in what he was doing.”

Ron Pearson said his son loved to hunt, fish and ride his bike, but that his top priority was his family. He and his wife, Jon Marie, had planned to buy a travel trailer and tour the country when Pearson got back from his latest 15-month tour, Ron Pearson said.

“They wanted to travel around and enjoy family life,” he said.

A 2001 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, where he majored in economics, Andrew Pearson was inspired to enter the military by his great-uncle, who also attended West Point, his father said.

For the 2001 academy yearbook, Pearson chose a quote from President John F. Kennedy to accompany his photo: “In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility — I welcome it.”

Memorial services are planned at the War Memorial in Billings on May 10 and at Fort Hood on May 15.

Pearson will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Army Spc. Ronald J. Tucker remembered

The Associated Press

Ronald J. Tucker stood out in high school for the right reasons, including his sense of humor.

“If there was a good practical joke to be played, you could count on Ronnie having that grin on his face,” said Mitch Johnson, an administrator who had known Tucker since he was a first-grader.

Tucker, 21, of Fountain, Colo., was killed April 30 in Baghdad, when his vehicle struck an explosive. He was on his way back to base after his unit helped build a soccer field for Iraqi children.

Tucker spent his days tinkering with cars, driving like a NASCAR racer, rooting for the Broncos and spending time with friends and family who basked in his happy-go-lucky attitude.

“We never stopped laughing, and that was the greatest thing about Ronnie,” said friend and classmate Eric Iuso.

He was a 2005 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Hood. He is survived by his mother, Susan Arnold and stepfather, David Arnold.

His Junior ROTC instructor tried to talk Tucker out of enlisting. But the teenager was not swayed. “I told him to go to college and get an education,” 1st Sgt. Leroy Bogan said. “He was a highly motivated kid.”

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