Louisiana National Guard Soldiers Killed in Iraq - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Louisiana National Guard Soldiers Killed in Iraq

HOUMA, La. (AP) - Six National Guardsmen -- all from Houma and nearby southeast Louisiana towns -- were among those killed when a bomb blast struck their patrol vehicle in Iraq.

The soldiers with Task Force Baghdad were on patrol Thursday evening when their Bradley fighting vehicle hit the explosive, the military said in a statement. Everyone inside the Bradley was killed.

The National Guard identified the dead as three men from Houma: Specialist Bradley Bergeron, Sergeant Christopher Babin and Private first class Armand Frickey.

The three others were from the same area: Specialist Warren Murphy of Marrero, Specialist Huey Fassbender of LaPlace, and Sergeant First Class Kurt Comeaux of Raceland.

Governor Kathleen Blanco issued a statement today offering condolences to the fallen soldiers' families and asking for the prayers of all Louisiana residents.

Comeaux's relatives say they found out about the deaths last night. Comeaux was a father of three. Bergeron was a 1997 graduate of South Terrebonne High School, where several of his former classmates are now teachers. The principal there, Ken Delcambre, says the community is reeling from the news.

9-News has learned the soldiers were fighting with the Army National Guard’s "Charlie" Company. Their vehicle reportedly ran over a bomb in Taji, Iraq.

WWL-TV reports the soldiers involved in the blast belonged to the 2nd Battalion, 156th Mechanized Infantry Regiment. The troops were deployed in October to a mission in Iraq. Charlie Company’s citizen soldiers come from Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, New Orleans and the Morgan City area. The military did not identify the dead or their hometowns.

Lt. Col. Pete Schneider, a public-information officer with Jackson Barracks in New Orleans, said he would not confirm or deny the Louisiana deaths. He said it could take up to 24 hours to confirm casualties.

But members of Comeaux’s family told WWL they received a knock at their door Thursday night from an official who confirmed Kurt was one of seven American soldiers killed in the Iraqi attack.

"We got the knock at the door about 10:30 last night," Kurt Comeaux’s mother-in-law, Karen Gunn, said this morning. "We were told he was one of seven killed in the incident."

Gunn is the mother of Comeaux’s wife, Tiffiny, and the grandmother of the couple’s three young sons, Bryce, Brandon and Brody. Officials told the family that six of the seven fatalities are believed to be a part of the Comeaux’s Louisiana National Guard 156th Mechanized Infantry Charlie Company. The other soldier was from New York.

News of Bergeron’s death was revealed to South Terrebonne High Principal Ken Delcambre this morning. Delcambre said he learned Bergeron, a 1997 graduate of South Terrebonne High, was killed while on patrol. Early this morning, the concerned principal said he immediately sent an email to high-school staff members informing them of the death.

"We’re all in shock," said Delcambre. "What a horrible tragedy."

Delcambre said Bergeron’s death is particularly tragic because he was scheduled to go on leave but he gave it up so another member of the platoon could return home and get married. Reached for comment this morning, Bergeron’s mother said the family was waiting for an officer to arrive to confirm her son’s death.

"We’re here waiting," she said. "All we know is that he’s dead."

Babin had a child with a woman from Belize just before he was deployed, Tiffiny Comeaux told WWL in New Orleans, The Courier’s news-gathering partner.

The blast occurred about 6 p.m. Thursday -- or 9 a.m. local time -- when a small convoy was patrolling a mostly rural area near the infantry camp about 20 miles north of Baghdad, according to Dionne Searcey, a reporter from New York Newsday who is embedded with Manhattan’s 69th Mechanized Infantry unit.

The Louisiana soldiers have been merged with the Manhattan brigade and the two units fight alongside each other, Searcey reported. Gunn said the Comeaux family was told that Kurt was a member of Task Force Baghdad, which was on patrol Thursday night when its Bradley fighting vehicle hit a bomb and everyone inside was killed.

"It’s crazy. It’s just like it’s not real now," Gunn said this morning. "Kurt lived to do what he did. He loved his country."

Gunn recalled Comeaux as a devoted American, loving and caring husband and father.

"He was a wonderful person," the mother-in-law recalled. "He has three wonderful children -- a 9-year-old, Bryce, and 7-year-old twins, Brandon and Brody. He did everything for his wife and children. He was like Mr. Dad who also worked a full-time job."

She said the family had not been given much information concerning the incident in Iraq. "The officials are meeting now at Jackson Barracks in New Orleans, where they are being briefed on the incident," she said. "Once they are briefed, they will then come and tell the family more details."

Gunn said not knowing is also difficult. "We will know more later," she said. "Once we know more then maybe we will understand more."

The solider was no stranger to tragedies, she said. "He’s had so many tragedies during his military service, but he stayed focused," Gunn said. "He had cancer last year, but he had the surgery and the military took care of him."

Comeaux’s active tour earlier this year also began with tragedy. After only three hours on the guard’s trip to their training site at Fort Hood, Texas, in May, Comeaux’s plans were derailed when he was informed that this ailing father, Curtis "Pet Cream" Comeaux, had died at his Raceland home. He returned home for his father’s funeral. Despite these issues, Comeaux’s family members said they still supported the 34-year-old soldier’s quest.

"Last night we had a lot of issues," Gunn said when asked about her feelings about the war. "Kurt was dedicated to our country. Now, he’s given his life for our country."

Gunn said the family is awaiting more information. "We just hope this doesn’t keep happening," she said. "It’s too close to home … We just hope we are near the end of the rainbow."

Powered by WorldNow