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Division loses another soldier
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The 3rd Infantry Division was hit with another loss in Iraq Friday when a 22-year-old combat engineer was killed near Baghdad, the Department of Defense said Monday.
Pvt. Tyler J. Smith died on March 21 at the Forward Operating Base Falcon of wounds suffered when the base received indirect fire. Army officials would not elaborate on the incident, but a spokesperson said indirect fire usually describes a mortar or rocket attack.
Smith joined the Army in December 2005 and arrived at Fort Stewart in April 2006. He was assigned to the division's 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, which deployed in November for a 15-month tour in Iraq.
The Bethel, Maine, native was a 2004 graduate of Telstar Regional High School, where Dean of Students Charlie Raymond depicted Smith as a popular leader among his peers who "had an infectious smile."
"He could light up a room with that smile," he told television station WMTW, a Portland, Maine, ABC-affiliate.
Smith's parents, Martin and Wendy Smith, have not commented publicly about their son's death, but have spoken privately with Maine Gov. John Baldacci, who said the state joins them in their time of grief.
"As a state, we join together and mourn the loss of another young soldier from Maine," Baldacci said in a prepared statement. "This is a terrible loss for his family, his friends and his community. We honor Pvt. Smith's sacrifice and will keep his family in our hearts and prayers."
The governor has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff on the day of Smith's funeral.
Based on a March 25 DoD casualty report, the number of confirmed American troop deaths in Iraq totals 3,996, while the Associated Press and other independent organizations tracking U.S. casualties count the number of U.S. losses at 4,000.
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