Soldier from state dies in Iraq

A Washington National Guard soldier from Port Orchard was killed Sunday during a noncombat vehicle rollover in Tallil, Iraq, about two months before his unit was set to begin returning home.

Spc. Samuel D. Stone, 20, was assigned to 1st Squadron, 303rd Cavalry Regiment, a unit of the 81st Brigade Combat Team. It was the first death the brigade has suffered since deploying to Iraq last fall.

“We certainly had the hope we could get through the deployment with no deaths,” Lt. Col. Paul Morgan, the brigade rear detachment commander, told The News Tribune. “We got so close, and to see this happen is just disheartening.”

The accident, in a M1117 Guardian Armored Security Vehicle, remains under investigation. One other soldier riding in the three-person vehicle was injured, Morgan said.

The family is still finalizing details for a memorial service. They first learned of the death Sunday morning. Scant details were available about Stone’s personal background, but he had previously served in the Washington National Guard’s 66th Theater Aviation Command.

The brigade, which includes 2,400 soldiers from Washington, mobilized for federal service Aug. 18. After training at Fort McCoy, Wis., and Camp Buehring, Kuwait, it arrived in Iraq in late October. It is spread among bases throughout the country, and about three-quarters of its troops are tasked with providing security for contractor trucks that deliver supplies across the country. Others provide base and personal security.

“The entire Washington National Guard is deeply saddened by the loss of Specialist Stone,” Maj. Gen. Timothy J. Lowenberg, the adjutant general of the Washington National Guard, said in a statement. “The memory of his service and dedication will live on with our citizen soldiers and airmen forever. We stand firm in support of the Stone family and will do all we can to assist them during this difficult time.”

Scott Fontaine: 253-320-4758