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2 more Ft. Lewis soldiers killed

June is on pace to be the deadliest month for Fort Lewis soldiers in Iraq with word on Monday two more soldiers were killed there.

Sgt. Danny R. Soto, 24, of Houston, Texas, and Spc. Zachary A. Grass, who turned 22 on May 22, of Beach City, Ohio, died Saturday when the vehicle they were riding in struck an improvised explosive device in Rashidiyah, located on Baghdad’s northern outskirts, the Pentagon said.

Both soldiers were assigned to Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 12th Field Artillery Regiment of the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. The brigade has lost 13 soldiers since it deployed in April for a 15-month tour.

Grass played basketball and baseball at Fairless High School, where he graduated in 2003.

“He was a kid always willing to do whatever it took to help the team, a pretty selfless kid,” head boys basketball coach Matt Kramer told The Repository newspaper in Canton, Ohio.

Soto’s family members couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Fort Lewis has lost 15 soldiers this month. Twenty soldiers were killed in May, the deadliest month for soldiers assigned to the Army post.

A total of 134 service members assigned to Fort Lewis have died in Iraq.

The 4th Brigade and its sister Stryker unit, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, are conducting security operations in and around Baghdad has part of the military strategy to quell the sectarian violence and insurgent activity in the area.

Grass and Soto enlisted in the Army four days apart in February 2005, according to the Army post, and both reported to Fort Lewis in June of that year.

A memorial service for both soldiers will be held at 11 a.m. on June 26 at the Evergreen Chapel on post.

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