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Soldier dies atop bomb resistant truck
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The death of a 3rd Infantry Division soldier killed in Iraq over the weekend when his MRAP vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device is under investigation, a division spokesperson said Tuesday.
Spc. Richard B. Burress, 25, died Jan. 19 while acting as the gunner atop a Mine-Resistant, Ambush Protected vehicle that rolled over after being hit by the roadside bomb in Al Jabour.
According to Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell, the MRAP hit a "very large, deep-buried IED" and the "force of the explosion blew the MRAP into the air and caused it to overturn."
It is unclear whether Burress died from injuries due to the blast or in the subsequent rollover.
Three crew members inside the cabin of the heavily armored vehicle suffered cuts and broken bones in their feet.
Maj. Alayne P. Conway, deputy spokeswoman for the 3rd ID, said both the attack and death are under investigation.
Burress is the first American killed in a roadside bomb attack on an MRAP, the military's latest heavily armored vehicle designed to deflect blasts from IEDs, which have killed more U.S. troops than any other tactic used by insurgents and militia fighters in Iraq.
Family members in his hometown of Naples, Fla. told the Associated Press Burress joined the Army in December 2005 to "add focus and direction" to his life, but "didn't want to be recognized for his service and was deeply touched by the many thanks he received from strangers."
He enjoyed the simple pleasures of fishing, canoeing and spending time with family members, especially his daughter, Alyssa.
Burress was assigned to the division's 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.
Despite the soldier's death, however, Morrell said the Department of Defense would not halt its plans to purchase thousands of additional MRAPs.
"That attack...has not caused anyone to question the vehicle's lifesaving capacity," he told reporters Tuesday. "To the contrary, the attack reaffirms their survivability."
There are currently more than 1,500 MRAPs in service in Iraq and the Pentagon is planning to spend $21 billion in funding provided by Congress to get at least 12,000 more.
Each vehicle costs between $500,000 and $1 million, depending on size and how equipped.
The vehicles are being built and put into service in an effort to provide troops more protection than is offered by armored Humvees, which have flat bottoms that absorb the shock waves from a blast.
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