Two Region 8 Soldiers Killed In Iraq Tuesday

JANUARY 6, 2005 - Posted at 7:59 a.m. CST

BAGHDAD, IRAQ - Two Region 8- based soldiers, plus one other Arkansan, are dead in Iraq after a roadside bomb exploded Tuesday in Baghdad.  Two soldiers were injured in the blast, one from Arkansas and one from New York.

The explosion happened as the humvee the solders were in was traveling as part of a convoy leaving an Iraqi National Guard bunker area in the al-Shaab district of Baghdad.

The soldiers were with the Second Platoon of Bravo Company, Third Battalion of Arkansas' 39th Infantry Brigade.  The three who died were all roommates at the company's base at Camp Gunslinger.

The Region 8 soldiers who were killed include the humvee driver, Specialist Joshua Marcum of Evening Shade, and Corporal Jimmy Buie of Floral.  Also killed was Sergeant Jeremy McHalffey of Mabelvale.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Marcum's mother told K8 News that her son always wanted to serve in the Army, and was extremely proud of his role in Iraq.  Marcum was married, and had two children and three step-children.  His National Guard unit was based in Batesville.

The 43-year-old Buie joined the military after high school.  He re-joined in August and spent a month training for Iraq duty at Fort Hood, Texas.  Buie was a mechanic at Mark Martin Ford-Mercury in Batesville, and his boss there said he was a hard-working employee.  His wife, Lisa, said the couple had a weekly ritual of talking on Sundays.  She said yesterday that she is proud of her husband and won't think of his death with anger because she feels it would dishonor his memory.

Specialist Christian Kerlen of Batesville was driving the vehicle behind the humvee when the blast hit.  He said his vehicle rolled through the dust and he saw the humvee wobble, hit a pole and then stop.  Kerlen said he went to start pulling people out and was unable to recognize them.

The Arkansas solders who remain in Iraq said they are stunned by the deaths and want people in the United States to recognize their comrades as heroes.  Some of the soldiers went back to the site of the bombing afterward, hoping to find any information that would lead them to the bomber.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)