Intelligence soldier from JBLM killed in Iraq attack

She was a former high school cheerleader described by her grandmother as sweet and gentle. She also was an Army specialist in the highly secretive field of gathering human intelligence.

Spc. Faith R. Hinkley, 23, who came to Joint Base Lewis-McChord two years ago, died Saturday after insurgents attacked her unit in Iraq, the Department of Defense announced Monday.

Hinkley, who hailed from southwestern Colorado, died in Baghdad of wounds she suffered in Iskandariya, about 30 miles south of the Iraqi capital. She was on her first deployment.

Hinkley was assigned to the 502nd Military Intelligence Battalion, 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade. She is the first soldier from the surveillance brigade reported killed since it moved from Lewis-McChord to Iraq last fall.

The 1,000-member brigade’s move was one of the last major deployments in a surge of nearly 18,000 local soldiers who started serving yearlong combat tours in Iraq or Afghanistan in 2009.

Spread across more than 30 sites in Iraq, the brigade’s mission includes coordinating spying from human sources, intercepting cell phone and other electronic messages, doing counterintelligence activities, managing Arabic linguists, and monitoring and targeting enemy positions, among other duties.

Hinkley’s military occupational specialty was listed as human intelligence collector.

According to unit records, she enlisted in the Army in August 2007. After basic training followed by training in her occupational specialty, she reported to Lewis-McChord in August 2008.

Hinkley was a native of Monte Vista, Colo., and attended school in Colorado Springs after graduating from high school in 2006, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.

“You couldn’t find a sweeter, gentler person than she was,” her grandmother, Leona Edwards, told the Gazette.

She is survived by her parents, David and Annavee Hinkley, a brother, Matthew, and a sister, Shannon.

Hinkley’s death shows the continuing exposure of U.S. forces in Iraq, even as thousands of Lewis-McChord troops are in the final stages of returning from that country and as the Obama administration focuses U.S. military policy on Afghanistan.

It also shows that modern warfare knows no gender lines.

Hinkley is the eighth Lewis-McChord soldier reported to have died in Iraq this year. Three of those eight were women.

Matt Misterek: 253-597-8472 matt.misterek@thenewstribune.com