04/05 - 8 dead found in raid were in POW's convoy - East Valley Tribune: Nation / World

04/05 - 8 dead found in raid were in POW's convoy

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Posted: Saturday, April 5, 2003 7:01 am | Updated: 1:16 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

WASHINGTON - Eight dead soldiers found during the rescue of an American POW in Iraq this week were in her ambushed convoy, the Pentagon announced Saturday.

The eight soldiers identified Saturday were with Pfc. Jessica Lynch when their convoy was ambushed near Nasiriyah on March 23. Seven were members of Lynch's unit, the 507th Maintenance Company. Two other members of the unit had been listed as killed in action, and five are listed as prisoners of war.

Those five, who appeared on Iraqi television being questioned by their captors, were not among the bodies found during Lynch's rescue.

The dead included the first American woman soldier killed in the Iraq war, Pfc. Lori Ann Piestewa, 23, of Tuba City, Ariz. Piestewa, a Hopi who was one of the few American Indian women in the military, was the mother of a 4-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl.

The U.S. commandos who freed Lynch from a hospital in Nasiriyah this week also found 11 bodies, nine of which were believed to be those of Americans. The nine bodies were returned to a forensics center at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware for identification and investigation of how they died.

The Pentagon issued a statement early Saturday morning saying the status of the eight soldiers had been changed from missing to killed.

Besides Piestewa the other dead were identified as:

-Sgt. George E. Buggs, 31, of Barnwell, S.C.

-Master Sgt. Robert J. Dowdy, 38, of Cleveland.

-Pvt. Ruben Estrella-Soto, 18, of El Paso, Texas.

-Spc. James M. Kiehl, 22, of Comfort, Texas.

-Chief Warrant Officer Johnny Villareal Mata, 35, of Amarillo, Texas.

-Pvt. Brandon U. Sloan, 19, of Cleveland.

-Sgt. Donald R. Walters, 33, of Kansas City, Mo.

All but Buggs were members of the 507th Maintenance, an army unit based at Fort Bliss, Texas. Buggs was a member of the 3rd Division Support Battalion of Fort Stewart, Ga., another Army unit that was in the same convoy.

The ninth body taken to Dover had not been identified.

Five members of the unit remain listed as prisoners of war. Shortly after the unit's ambush, the five were shown on Iraqi state-run television being questioned by their captors.

Iraqi television also showed footage of at least five bodies. After viewing that footage, Pentagon officials accused Iraq of executing prisoners of war.

There was no immediate word from the Pentagon Saturday on whether the soldiers were killed in the ambush or afterward.

Walters was a veteran of the 1991 Persian Gulf War who had followed the example of his father, Norman, a trombonist in the Air Force Band.

"He was a patriotic guy. He felt it was his duty to serve his country," Norman Walters said.

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