Memorial today for contractor killed in Iraq


POSTED: Thursday, September 24, 2009

Funeral services for the 27-year-old American contractor allegedly killed by a Schofield Barracks soldier last week at an Army post in Iraq will be held today in his Louisiana hometown.

Lucas “;Trent”; Vinson had been working for the Houston-based KBR since 2003 when he was killed Sept. 13 at Contingency Operating Base Speicher near Tikrit, about 105 miles north of Baghdad.

Spc. Beyshee Velez, who was on his third combat deployment to Iraq, is accused of shooting Vinson with an M-4 carbine. On Monday, Velez was charged with two counts of murder, one count of trying to elude Air Force security forces at Speicher and three counts of assault.

Velez, 31, is assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team's Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 7th Field Artillery. He is now confined to the Ford Island brig awaiting an Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a preliminary hearing. The shooting is being investigated by the Army Criminal Investigation Command.

Although the Army declined to release details surrounding the Camp Speicher shooting, Velez's charge sheet said the soldier, who has been in the Army for 10 years and served in a combat zone three times, pointed his loaded M-4 carbine at Vinson and it discharged, resulting in his death.

A murder conviction by court-martial could result in life imprisonment for Velez.

Vinson's family was told by Army officials that he was shot three times after picking up a soldier who flagged down his vehicle on base.

Guy LaBoa, a KBR manager, said in a Sept. 14 newsletter to his employees that the shooting occurred at 8:30 a.m. He said Vinson was shot while driving a vehicle outside the project manager's office.

LaBoa also said Vinson's father, Myron, is employed by KBR, the primary private contractor in Iraq supporting troops with services such as housing, meals, mail delivery and laundry, and was at the same base.

Velez was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division in 2005. He deployed to Iraq from August 2006 to October 2007 when the division's 3rd Bronco Brigade first deployed to Iraq. It returned to Iraq a year later.