Some odds and ends have piled up during my absence, but this e-mail in my in-box on my return to Little Rock on Memorial Day seems to demand the sole post of the evening. From the Arkansas National Guard:
CAMP JOSEPH T. ROBINSON, Ark. - The Department of Defense today announced the death of an Arkansas National Guard Soldier participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Spc. Erich S. Smallwood, 23, of Trumann, Ark., died near Balad, Iraq, on May 26, 2007, of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Smallwood was a member of the Marked Tree based, Company B, of the 87th Troop Command's 875th Engineer Battalion. During the deployment, Smallwood was serving with the battalion's Company A, from Jonesboro.
"This is another heartbreaking loss for both the State of Arkansas and the Nation," said Maj. Gen. William D. Wofford, the adjutant general of Arkansas. "But, today, as we honor all of our men and women in uniform who have lost their lives in service to the nation, we hold a special thought for Erich and his family. This is our most recent example of sacrifice by a true American patriot. His service and his sacrifice will not be forgotten. Our thoughts, prayers, and support are with his family as they try to cope with the pains of this devastating loss."
Approximately 400 Soldiers from the 875th Engineer Battalion were mobilized for duty in Iraq on July 19, 2006. The 875th is headquartered in Jonesboro, Ark., with units based in Paragould, Harrisburg and Marked Tree. The battalion is slated for return in the fall of this year.
This is the 21st loss suffered by the Arkansas National Guard during Operation Iraqi Freedom, the only for the 875th.