Non-combat injury kills soldier with Hawaii ties
Army Pfc. Eric R. Wilkus, whose unit was to return to Hawaii, has died of a non-combat-related injury received in Baghdad, Iraq, the Defense Department confirmed yesterday.
Wilkus, 20, of Hamilton, N.J., died Monday at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany. He was injured Friday.
The incident is under investigation, the Defense Department said.
Wilkus was assigned to the 57th Military Police Company, 8th Military Police Brigade. Before being redeployed to Iraq in June, Wilkus was stationed in Korea.
Neither Wilkus nor his unit was stationed in Hawaii, said Troy Griffin, public affairs officer for U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii. The 57th Military Police Company deployed to Iraq from Korea. When it redeploys after its tour in Iraq, it will come to Oahu, Griffin said.
Wilkus was a volunteer firefighter with the White Horse Fire Co. in Hamilton, where he joined as a junior member at 16, The Star-Ledger of Newark reported on its Web site yesterday. His father, Walter, has belonged to the same fire station for about two decades.
White Horse Fire Chief Richard Soltis Jr. remembered Wilkus as a hard worker.
"He was excited to follow in the footsteps of his father, who is a firefighter, and his aunt, who is involved in the emergency services, and his grandfather, who was also involved in the fire service," Soltis told The Ledger.
Fifteen Schofield Barracks soldiers have been killed in Iraq since September.
As of yesterday, at least 2,978 members of the U.S. military have died since the Iraq war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians.