FLW soldier killed just weeks before return of 5th Engineers from Iraq

Darrell Todd Maurina

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (June 6, 2009) — Only a few weeks before the expected return of Fort Leonard Wood’s 5th Engineer Battalion from Iraq, the unit has lost a soldier to an anti-tank grenade attack.

Spec. Charles D. Parrish, 23, of Jasper, Ala., died on Thursday in the Iraqi city of Balad due to wounds suffered earlier that day. According to a Fort Leonard Wood press release, Parrish’s vehicle was hit in the Iraqi city of Jalula.

Local media in Birmingham, Ala., reported that Parrish was an Army medic with a wife and 4-year-old son. It wasn't immediately clear whether they live in the Fort Leonard Wood area or whether they had returned to live with family members elsewhere.

The 5th Engineer Battalion’s primary mission is clearing roadways and other routes of land mines, improvised explosive devices and other items used by Iraqi insurgents to kill American soldiers. The 5th Engineer Battalion has been in Iraq about 14 months and had been tentatively scheduled to return to the United States in mid-July.

The 5th Engineers are part of the 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade headquartered at Fort Leonard Wood; standard procedures following a fatality include a media briefing by senior leaders of the 4th MEB. Post officials say a late Monday morning briefing is planned that will provide further information on the incident.

This week has been a difficult week for American military personnel, with 11 soldiers killed from Monday to Thursday, seven of them in Afghanistan and four in Iraq, according to Department of Defense reports. Two different soldiers were killed Thursday by anti-tank grenades attacks on their vehicles in Iraq, but the other soldier was a member of a different unit and was killed in a separate incident in Kirkuk.

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