Soldier, 32, died on second Iraq tour
His family names the third of five killed in Kirkuk on Wednesday
A 32-year-old North Carolina man has been identified as the third of five Schofield Barracks soldiers killed Wednesday when a homemade bomb exploded by their Humvee in Kirkuk, Iraq.
Spc. Jason Huffman of Conover, N.C., was three weeks into his second tour in Iraq, his parents, Karen and Gary Huffman, said in an Associated Press report yesterday.
"Jason died doing what Jason loved to do, and that was to protect his country," said Jimmy Murphy, Huffman's brother-in-law.
Huffman joined the Army in 2003 and served his first tour in Iraq in 2003 and 2004, his family said.
The military has yet to identify the five soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, but family members have identified Huffman, Sgt. Joshua Madden, 21, of Minden, La., and Sgt. Jesse Castro, 22, of Guam. Madden saw his 3-month-old son for the first time while on leave over Thanksgiving, his family said.
There has been no official explanation of their deaths by the Pentagon.
The loss of five Schofield Barracks soldier is the highest one-day loss for the 25th Infantry Division since it deployed to Iraq in 2004.
The deaths also raised to at least 32 the number of U.S. troops killed in the first week of December.
The Associated Press also reported that Schofield Barracks Sgt. Keith E. Fiscus, 26, of Townsend, Del., who died Dec. 2 in Baghdad of injuries suffered when a bomb detonated near his vehicle, would be buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday. Fiscus was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, since 2002.
"I know it's an honor to be buried at Arlington," said Pamela Fiscus, who opposed her son enlisting in the Army. "I think he would be honored to be there."
"I begged him not to join the military. I tried to talk him out of it," said Fiscus, whose father and father-in-law both served in uniform.
Fiscus said she let military recruiters know they were not welcome in her house, but that her son would not be dissuaded.
"It was destined for him to be a soldier," she said. "When he was a young boy, his favorite toy was G.I. Joe. He kept telling me, 'Mom, this is what I want to do.'"
After an initial 14-month tour of duty in Iraq, Keith Fiscus returned to the United States, visiting with his family in Delaware for about three weeks before returning to Hawaii. Pamela Fiscus said her son, who re-enlisted while still in Iraq, had a hard time adjusting to civilian life and volunteered for a second deployment overseas.
"He always told me he would go back as many times as he had to go back," she said. "I could not talk him out of it, because he was destined to be an American soldier."
Before he deployed, Fiscus received ordnance training at Aberdeen, Md., where he met a new girlfriend, who also was deployed to Iraq, his mother said.
In their last conversation, Fiscus told his mother that he was going to leave the infantry and attend ordnance training school in Florida. He had plans of joining a police bomb squad after his enlistment was up in 2010.
"I think it's time all the soldiers come home. It's enough," his mother said.
"He told me that they were under constant attack, and that they knew they were not wanted there and knew that they were fighting a senseless war," she added. "I'm bitter toward it all."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.