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Iraqi insurgents slay private from Schofield


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POSTED: Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A 20-year-old Schofield Barracks soldier who was shot by insurgents in Iraq last week was providing security for an effort to help a town get clean drinking water, Army officials said.

Pfc. Christopher W. Lotter of Chester Heights, Pa., died a day later on New Year's Eve becoming the first casualty of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team's second Iraqi deployment.

The Pentagon reported yesterday that Lotter died in Balad of his wounds suffered when he was shot by enemy forces Dec. 30 in Tikrit. Lotter had been in the Army less than a year and was assigned to Alpha Battery, 3rd Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment.

More than 400 people attended his memorial service Saturday which was held near Tikrit at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, where the headquarters of the 3rd Brigade is located.

"The last selfless act of Lotter's life was to help the people of Khadasia to have fresh, clean drinking water," Capt. Jeff Rhodes, Lotter's company commander, said at the service, according to an Army account. "To honor his sacrifice, the soldiers in his company will ensure the water plant is up," Rhodes said.

The town of Khadasia is 37 miles north of Tikrit. The Army said Lotter was on patrol, serving as a gunner on an armored vehicle. He was shot while standing in the vehicle's gunner's hatch as part of a team securing the area as other soldiers got out of the vehicles and went into the water department to talk to the director about upgrading the water plant at the Khadasia General Hospital, according to Army officials.

Lotter was immediately transported to a military hospital at Speicher before being evacuated to the military trauma center at Joint Base Balad where he died of his wounds.

He joined the Army last January and was assigned to Schofield Barracks in June.

The 3rd Brigade arrived in Iraq in late October, a year after returning home from the same area. During its first Iraqi deployment, which began in August 2006, 36 of its soldiers were killed. The brigade is responsible for an area the size of West Virginia and consists of the Iraqi provinces of Salah ad-Din, which has about 1.2 million people, and Kirkuk, with 1.5 million.

The 3rd Brigade, part of the 25th Infantry Division, also has been to Afghanistan. In its first wartime deployment since the Vietnam War, the brigade lost 15 soldiers in Afghanistan, where it was stationed from January 2004 through June 2005.