Kaneohe Marine
among 4 killed

Lance Cpl. Steven Valdez had
already won a Purple Heart


Thursday, Sept. 29, 2005

» One Kaneohe Marine was killed in Afghanistan and three California-based citizen soldiers assigned to the Hawaii Army National Guard were killed in Iraq within the past week. A Page A1 article in yesterday's morning edition incorrectly referred to all those killed as Marines.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin strives to make its news report fair and accurate. If you have a question or comment about news coverage, call Editor Frank Bridgewater at 529-4791 or email him at corrections@starbulletin.com.

Four Marines of Hawaii units, including a Kaneohe Marine already awarded a Purple Heart, were killed in the past week in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Pentagon said yesterday Marine Lance Cpl. Steven A. Valdez, 20, was killed Monday when insurgents attacked his forward operating base Camp Blessing near Asadabad with mortar, rocket-propelled grenade and small-arms fire. He had been awarded a Purple Heart for combat wounds suffered since he was sent to Afghanistan in June.

Valdez, of McRea, Ark., joined the Marine Corps in June 2004 and reported to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, stationed at Kaneohe Bay, in November. He deployed to Afghanistan in June as a machine gunner with Echo Company's weapons platoon.

Valdez is survived by his mother and father.

The Pentagon also identified three California Marines yesterday from the 29th Brigade Combat Team's 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry, who were killed in Iraq last week. The California unit is one of three battalions assigned to the Hawaii-based 29th Brigade.

The Pentagon said Spc. Mike T. Sonoda, Jr., 34, of Fallbrook, Calif., died in Baghdad of injuries sustained when a homemade bomb detonated near his M113 armored personnel carrier on Sept. 21.

On Sept. 23, Staff Sgt. Daniel R. Scheile, 37, of Antioch, Calif.; and Sgt. Paul C. Neubauer, 40, of Oceanside, Calif., were in a M113 armored personnel carrier that hit a roadside bomb. Neubauer died that day, and Scheile died the next day.

Five Marines from the 29th Brigade's California unit have died in Iraq since the unit arrived there in March.

Valdez was the fourth member of the 2nd Battalion from Kaneohe to be killed since the unit arrived in Afghanistan in late May.

"These men gave their lives for America and a free Afghanistan," Brig. Gen. James G. Champion, Combined Joint Task Force 76 deputy commanding general, said in a written statement about Valdez's death. "We will continue to aggressively take the fight to the enemy until they are defeated."

He also was referring to the death of another U.S. Marine who was killed during an assault operation west of Kandahar.

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