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Tuesday, April 15

Families mourn 2 soldiers killed in Iraq grenade accident

By Leon Alligood | The Tennessean

Until Monday night, Anetta Courtney of Dresden, Tenn., had two reasons to pray for American soldiers in Iraq - her two grandsons.

Now she has one.

Shortly before midnight on Monday, Army officials knocked on her door and informed her that Spc. Thomas Arthur Foley III, 23, of Fort Campbell, Ky., had been killed in a grenade explosion near Baghdad.

``Tommy was gone, they said. Sometime the day before, we don't know exactly when,'' Courtney said.

Foley was one of two Fort Campbell soldiers killed in the same incident. Also dead is Pfc. Johnny Brown, 21, of Troy, Ala. Both soldiers were members of the 2nd Battalion of the 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, which is attached to the 101st Airborne Division.

The soldiers were killed and two others were injured in ``an apparent accidental detonation of a grenade while they were performing maintenance on a vehicle at a checkpoint south of Baghdad,'' according to a press release from U.S. Central Command.

Jimmy Lunsford, mayor of Troy, Ala., and a friend of Brown's family, said Army officers broke the news to them about 9 p.m. Monday.

Both soldiers had much in common. Each man enlisted in the Army soon after high school. Each was described as having an outgoing, adventurous personality. And each told their families they were doing exactly what they wanted to do.

``He was a vivacious, outgoing, mischievous child. He loved to pull pranks and everything,'' said Courtney of her grandson.

Lunsford said he knew Brown very well. ``In fact, I assisted him in getting into the military. It was definitely his dream,'' said Lunsford.

On Saturday, Lunsford said, a magazine reporter had allowed Brown use a satellite phone to call his family.

``He told them in the event that something happened to him to just understand he was where he wanted to be and doing what he wanted to do,'' Lunsford said. ``They are taking comfort in that.''

Courtney said her grandson leaves a widow, Paulette, and a 6-month-old son, Logan, who reside at Fort Campbell.

As the Dresden woman grieves, she also frets about her other grandson, David Wayne Foley, who is also serving in Iraq, but not with the 101st. His duty station is in Germany.

``He got to Iraq a week ago and we don't know if he knows yet about his brother. We haven't heard from him. They were planning to try to get together, but now they won't,'' Courtney said.

``It's just so sad. Those boys were always two peas in a pod.''