Oct. 18, 2011

Virginia National Guard confirms fatality in Iraq from non-combat related injuries

By Cotton Puryear   
Virginia Department of Military Affairs

SANDSTON, Va.— The Virginia National Guard has confirmed that Staff Sgt. James R. Leep, Jr. died Oct. 17, 2011, in Babil Province, Iraq as the result of non-combat related injuries. The Soldier's death is under investigation.

 

Staff Sgt. James R. Leep, Jr. died Oct. 17, 2011, in Babil Province, Iraq as the result of non-combat related injuries. The Soldier's death is under investigation.

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Leep, who was 44 years old, was serving in Troop A, 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment in Iraq at the time of his death. He was assigned to the Gate City-based 1033rd Engineer Company as a combat engineer and construction equipment supervisor and was reassigned to Troop A as a truck commander for the unit's convoy security mission and was commander for a convoy escort team.

He is survived by his wife, two adult children and sister. He was from Davenport, Va.

The Virginia National Guard plans to hold a news conference at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 19 at the Cedar Bluff Armory at 175 Essayons Drive in Cedar Bluff.

"It is very sad that this has happened and difficult to think of the appropriate words to say that would relieve the pain and suffering that his family feels," said Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia. "Soldier and family care are very important, and we intend to do everything we can to support his family and the men and women that deployed with him. We ask that his community and the rest of Virginia keep his family in their prayers during their time of grief."

Long also asked that the privacy of the family be respected and all questions from the news media be directed to Cotton Puryear, the Virginia Department of Military Affairs communications director.

"I have personally spoken with the unit's commander in Iraq, and the unit is doing everything that can be done to support the members of the unit during this difficult time," Long said. "Here in Virginia, we will make sure the family has all the resources we can provide to help them cope with their loss."

The unit is scheduled to hold a memorial service for the Soldier Oct. 20 at 4 p.m. (Iraq time).

He first joined the National Guard in April 1986, served on active duty from December 1987 to August 1995 as a light wheeled vehicle mechanic. He rejoined the Guard in January 1996 and began working as a combat engineer and construction equipment supervisor. He worked full time as a surface maintenance repairer technician for the Virginia National Guard at Field Maintenance Shop #14 in Richlands, Va.

Leep had previously deployed to Bosnia from September 2001 to April 2002 and served on the Southwest border security mission from June to August 2006. He deployed twice with the 276th Engineer Battalion, first to Iraq from December 2003 to March 2005 and then to Afghanistan from November 2008 to January 2010.

More than 825 Soldiers from across Virginia came together to Form Task Force 183 under the command of the Portsmouth-based 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment and began federal active duty June 1, 2011 to conduct convoy security and base defense operations. After training at Camp Atterbury for almost two months, the unit arrived in Iraq at the end of July. Task Force 183 is made up of the three line troops and the headquarters troop from 2nd Squadron, along with an infantry company and an engineer company from Fredericksburg and an infantry company from Christiansburg.

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