August 9, 2004

Virginia Guard identifies casualties from infantry unit

The Virginia National Guard announced today the death of two soldiers supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.  They died on Aug. 7, in Ghazikel, Afghanistan, when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device.  Both soldiers were assigned to the Virginia Army National Guard's 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, Winchester, Va. The battalion is part of the 1st Brigade, 29th Infantry Division (Light), headquartered at Fort Belvoir, Va.  Killed were:

Staff Sgt. Craig W. Cherry, 39, of Winchester, Va.

Sgt. Bobby E. Beasley, 36, of Inwood, W.Va.

The incident is under investigation.

Maj. Gen. Claude A. Williams, the adjutant general of Virginia, said “There is little in life that is as painful as the loss of a fellow Soldier in battle.  The tragic loss of these brave Virginians is a chilling reminder of the dangers our troops face on a daily basis. We must remain vigilant and resilient, and we must understand the key role our Soldiers have in working to create stability in Afghanistan.”

Williams stressed that “The families and loved ones of these fine Soldiers will be the Virginia National Guard’s primary focus in the coming days.  All of our resources will be made available to bring what comfort we can to those affected by this loss.  We ask that the citizens of the Commonwealth keep the loved ones of these Soldiers in their thoughts and prayers.”

The unit’s family support organization along with the Family Assistance Center at Fort Pickett is currently working with the families through this difficult period, Williams explained.

These casualties are the first combat casualties the 116th Infantry has suffered since World War II.

The soldiers of 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment entered active federal service on March 1, 2004. After a period of training at Fort Bragg, they arrived in Afghanistan on July 15 and have been operating in the Ghazni Province, about 100 miles south of Kabul. Their missions have included intelligence gathering, security patrols and manning traffic control points to assist with operations to prepare for upcoming elections.

Plans for memorial services are being made by the Soldiers’ families and information will be released when available.

For further information related to this release, contact Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000 or the Virginia National Guard Public affairs at (434) 298-6107 . 

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