AP Profiles Two of Latest U.S. Fatalities in Iraq

By: E&P Staff

The Associated Press distributed today two separate articles, based on reports in Pennsylvania and Maine newspapers, on two of the latest deaths among U.S. military personnel in Iraq.

They follow.

ORONO, Maine — An Army staff sergeant who was laid to rest on Wednesday was worried about the mission on which he died in Iraq, his young widow said.

Eric Ross, 26, told his wife that the mission in the city of Baqubah, just outside the notorious Sunni Triangle, was poorly planned.

“He was scared about it,” said his widow, Allison Ross, 19, of Lisbon. That online communication was the last they had. Early the next day, Ross failed to sign onto the Internet. Hours later, an Army official arrived on her doorstep.

Gov. John Baldacci ordered flags lowered to half-staff Wednesday as Ross’ funeral was held in the gymnasium at Orono High School, where Ross was a graduate. Burial followed afterward at Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery.

Ross, who was on his second tour of duty in Iraq, was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, based at Fort Hood, Texas.

The widow he left behind is six months pregnant. When doctors determined that Allison was carrying a boy, the couple decided to name him Gabriel Bradley.

Bradley is the name of a friend injured during Eric’s first tour in Iraq.

Their faith gave them Gabriel, Allison Ross said. “It means ‘Messenger of God.'”

Besides Allison and their unborn child, Eric left behind a daughter, Megan, 4, and a son, Trever, 7, both from a previous relationship.

Before the funeral, Allison Ross told the Sun Journal newspaper that she knew there was a problem when the government car pulled outside her home. “We’re taught that no one will come to your door unless your husband has been killed,” she said.

Compounding her loss, she will bury her grandmother, Louise Mockley, on Thursday. Mockley, 71, died on Saturday. Allison Ross said Mockley lost her first husband in a war. “I wanted to talk with her about how she got by,” Ross said.

CORAOPLIS, PA. — A soldier from western Pennsylvania who was serving as a medic was killed in a firefight in Iraq, his family said.

Pvt. Matthew Bowe, 19, a 2005 graduate of Moon Area High School, was killed Monday along with another American serviceman about 30 miles north of Iraq, his mother, Lori Lynn Bowe told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for Wednesday’s editions. The family has an unlisted telephone and could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

“He wanted to go in the service, he wanted to be a doctor,” Bowe told the newspaper. “He talked about it for years.”

The U.S. Defense Department did not immediately release information on Bowe’s death, but his family learned about it Monday and officials at his former school learned of it Tuesday, said Moon Area High School Principal Michael Hauser.

“One of the reasons he joined the military was because he wanted to go to medical school and saw this as a way to pay for it,” Hauser told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Bowe said her son, the oldest of her five children, wanted to be a pediatrician and became interested in children because she runs a child day care center.

Pvt. Bowe enlisted in July 2005 and went to Iraq as a medic in October, after training at Fort Benning, Ga., and other posts in Texas and New York, his mother said. Bowe knew his assignment was dangerous, but she said her son tried to shield her from those details.

“He tried to smooth it over because I was always watching CNN and I’d always question him. And, of course, he’s talking to Mom, so he’d candy-coat it and try to say everything was fine and he was good,” Bowe said. “But he’d tell his dad things.”

Bowe last spoke to his mother on Dec. 27, when he called to wish her happy birthday. When his unit moved, he was limited to e-mails and last sent one to his mother for Valentine’s Day, she said.

Bowe was supposed to return home on leave this month, but that was delayed, she said.

“He was supposed to be home, but they kept bumping him out of his leave,” Bowe said. “He was supposed to be home right now, and they bumped him again. And now my son is dead.”

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