March 15, 2014
U.S. troops in Saddam Hussein's hometown held a memorial service today for a Virginia soldier killed in action.
Command Sergeant Major James Blankenbecler of Alexandria is the highest-ranking enlisted man killed by hostile fire in the Iraq war. The 40-year-old Blankenbecler was killed last week when his convoy was attacked about 60 miles north of Baghdad.
At today's service in Tikrit, Iraq, his dogtags were placed on an M-16 rifle; his helmet rested on its butt and a folded American flag was placed on his combat boots. About 200 soldiers stood at attention while a singer performed "Amazing Grace"
Blankenbecler attended the old Groveton High School in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County. He was interested in sports and played quarterback on the varsity football team. He joined the Army in 1983.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)