NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
No. 299-07 IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Department of Defense announced today the death of four soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died March 15, 2007. in Baghdad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near their unit during combat operations.They were assigned to the 1st Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.
Staff Sergeant Blake M. Harris, 27, of Hampton, Georgia
Staff Sergeant Terry W. Prater, 25, of Speedwell, Tennessee
Sergeant Emerson N. Brand, 29, of Rigby, Idaho
Private First Class James L. Arnold, 21, of Mattawan, Michigan
4 soldiers with ties to Georgia mourned
As war enters fifth year, number of dead from state totals 94
By SHELIA M. POOLE
Courtesy of the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
18 March 2007Perhaps it was Staff Sergeant Blake Harris' infectious smile and dimples that caught his future wife's attention.
Or maybe it was his sense of humor.
“You couldn't help but love him,” Brandy Harris said of her husband of 2 1/2 years.
The two were looking forward to being together this summer, when Harris was scheduled to come home from Iraq for a two-week visit with his wife and son, Tyrus, 6.
Last week, Harris became one of four soldiers with Georgia ties to die in Iraq, raising the number of Georgia armed forces members killed to 94. As the war begins its fifth year, marked this weekend by protests in Washington and around the country, the Defense Department said 3,208 members of the U.S. military had died as of Friday. Of those, 2,581 were killed in action.
Harris, 27, who grew up in Hampton, died Thursday in Baghdad when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit, according to the Department of Defense. He was on his second tour of duty in Iraq and had served in Afghanistan, his mother said.
Three other members of Harris' unit — the 1st Squadron, 8th Calvary Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Calvary Division out of Fort Hood, Texas — also died in the blast.
Harris' family hopes to plan funeral services and burial at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. A memorial service has been scheduled for Friday at First Baptist Church of Jonesboro.
“The only thing he really wanted to do was come home to his family,” his wife said. “He was such a family-oriented guy.”
In a telephone interview from the couple's home in Belton, Texas, Brandy Harris recalled meeting her husband on a volleyball court. Both were competitive, but Blake “talked so much trash, he got on my nerves,” she said laughing.
She last talked to him a few days before he died.
They talked about Tyrus playing soccer, a passion of Blake's. She said her husband one day hoped for a career as a pilot or in law enforcement.
Blake Harris graduated from Lovejoy High School and left a week later for Army basic training, said his sister, Holli Harris-Bynum, who lives in Georgia.
Harris was the “class clown and the family clown,” said his mother, Anne Harris of Royston. “He was always into some kind of devilment.”
His father, Paul D. Harris, called his son a dedicated soldier.
“He said he knew what he was getting into when he signed up,” said the elder Harris. “He was very concerned about [the safety of] his guys. He said some of the guys had never been in combat before.”
But he said his son said he couldn't worry too much. “He said when my time is up, I can be home or over there. I just have to do my duty and not worry.”
Chevalier was looking for a better life in the Army after getting a GED and working minimum wage jobs, his mother, Fonda Sager, said.
The father of 5-year-old Taylor Marie, Chevalier joined the military about a year and a half ago and most recently was based out of Fort Lewis, Washington, his mother said.
“His dream was to go to college and become a physical therapist,” she said.
Chevalier, who enjoyed fishing, camping and NASCAR, was particularly close to his 17-year-old brother, Dustin.
“They were more than brothers, they were like best friends,” Sager said. She remembered her son helping her care for Justin and his great-grandmother, when she became ill.
“He matured a lot faster than most his age,” she said. She said she was not comfortable with him being in Iraq, but as a parent, she supported him in what he chose to do.
She said he used to tell her about how happy it made the Iraqi children when soldiers gave them cookies and bottles of water.
“He accomplished so much with the short lifespan he had,” she said. Services are pending.
Body of Georgia Soldier Killed in Iraq Back Home
19 March 2007
On the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq, a Georgia family is mourning the death of their son and brother.
The body of Staff Sergeant Blake Harris arrived overnight at Dover Air Reserve Base. The soldier grew up in Jonesboro, Georgia.
Harris died in a roadside bombing Thursday while on foot-patrol with his unit outside Baghdad.
He was focused on the mission after fulfilling two deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
“He didn't get into the politics of it. He knew he had a job to do. As a father of course, I don't think they need to be over there. That's an Iraqi responsibility to police themselves now,” said Paul Harris, victim's father.
Harris will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
A memorial service for him will be held Friday at Jonesboro First Baptist Church.
HARRIS, BLAKE M
- SSG US ARMY
- DATE OF BIRTH: 03/30/1979
- DATE OF DEATH: 03/15/2007
- BURIED AT: SECTION 60 SITE 8612
- ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard