The two Fort Lewis-based Stryker brigades in Iraq each suffered a fatality during the weekend, the Pentagon announced Monday.
Spc. William J. Crouch of Zachary, La., and Spc. Romel Catalan of Los Angeles, were killed Saturday in separate roadside bombings, the Pentagon said. Both were 21 and had deployed to combat for the first time.
The deaths raise the specter that June could be another deadly month for Fort Lewis soldiers deployed to Iraq. The Army post lost 20 soldiers in May, the most since the U.S.-led invasion began in March 2003.
Crouch was a scout assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment of the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. Catalan was trained as a tank crew member and served with the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.
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The 3rd Brigade has lost 30 soldiers since it deployed last year and has four months remaining on its tour. The 4th Brigade has lost 10 soldiers in its initial weeks in Iraq.
A total of 121 service members assigned to Fort Lewis have been killed in Iraq.
Crouch enlisted in the Army during his senior year of high school in 2004, his mother, Kathy Rushing, told the Baton Rouge Advocate newspaper.
She said he got his desire to serve from his father, a Baton Rouge police officer who died of natural causes when Crouch was 13. Zachary is a town of more than 10,000 people located north of Baton Rouge, the state capital.
“It’s just something he just had in his blood to do,” Rushing told the newspaper.
Her other son, John Crouch, an Army Reservist stationed in Iraq, is making arrangements to fly his brother’s body home.
Catalan enlisted in the Army in July 2004 and arrived at Fort Lewis four months later.
Memorial services for both soldiers are tentatively scheduled for next week at the Army post.
The post’s acting commander has announced a change to monthly memorials, but officials are reconsidering that decision.
Today, the Army post will hold a memorial service for four soldiers also assigned to 4th Brigade who were killed in Iraq last month — Staff Sgt. Kristopher Higdon, Staff Sgt. David Kuehl, Cpl. Mathew LaForest and Pfc. Robert Worthington.
Christian Hill covers the city of Lacey and military for The Olympian. He can be reached at 360-754-5427 or at email@example.com.