10 days, 4 deaths in Iraq

FORT LEWIS - A 26-year-old Army sergeant from the 3rd Stryker Brigade based at Fort Lewis has died in Iraq, the Defense Department announced Sunday.

Sgt. Freeman L. Gardner Jr. of Little Rock, Ark., died Thursday in Baghdad from injuries he suffered when an improvised explosive devise detonated near his unit while he was on combat patrol.

He was the fourth soldier from Fort Lewis to die in Iraq in the past 10 days, all from different units and killed in separate incidents.

Gardner was with the 18th Engineer Company, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.

Joseph Piek, a spokesman for Fort Lewis, said Gardner entered the Army on June 9, 2004, and arrived at Fort Lewis the following Dec. 30.

Piek said Gardner was a signal systems support specialist, meaning he helped maintain or supervise the battlefield communications systems.

Gardner was serving his first tour of duty in Iraq and had been there since June. His unit is expected to return home in June or July, Piek said.

Gardner, the 94th service member from Fort Lewis to die in the Iraq War, received several awards, including the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Army Achievement Medal and the Army Service Ribbon.

Gardner graduated from high school in 1998 and was married. Piek did not have Gardner's wife's name and didn't know whether he had any children. He said a memorial service at Fort Lewis would probably be scheduled for later this week.

Army Staff Sgt. Darrell R. Griffin Jr., of Alhambra, Calif., a 36-year-old Stryker infantry squad leader from Fort Lewis, died Wednesday at the U.S. military hospital in Balad after being shot in Baghdad, the Defense Department said Friday.

Cpl. Brian L. Chevalier, 21, of Athens, Ga., a member of the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, died March 14 after his armored vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in Mufrek. He had recently re-enlisted for six more years in the Army.

Pfc. Anthony A. Kaiser, 27, of Narrowsburg, N.Y., a member of the 504th Military Police Battalion, 42nd Military Police Brigade, died March 17 of wounds from small arms fire after his unit encountered enemy forces, military officials said last Monday. His wife, Heather, was living at Fort Lewis.