Operation New Dawn in Iraq has brought the death of two Schofield Barracks soldiers in the north of the country — the first since U.S. combat operations were declared ended.
The Pentagon and media reports said an Iraqi soldier was killed Tuesday after he opened fire at a base in Salahuddin province, killing the two U.S. soldiers and wounding nine others.
Family and friends identified the two dead soldiers as Sgt. Phillip Jenkins, 27, of Decatur, Ind., and Pfc. James McClamrock, 22, from Cabarrus County, N.C., according to local media outlets.
The Pentagon as of last night had not released the names of the soldiers.
They were the first fatalities in Iraq since President Obama noted in a national address on Aug. 31 the end of combat missions in the country.
"So tonight, I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended," Obama said. "Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country."
The new "advise and assist" stability mission with 50,000 U.S. troops remaining in the country is called Operation New Dawn. All U.S. troops are expected to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011.
The Iraqi who shot the U.S. soldiers was a Kurdish soldier who sprayed bullets at an Iraqi army base in Tuz Khurmatu south of the oil city of Kirkuk, the Washington Post reported.
The Iraqi was shot dead.
The Post said the shooter was identified as Soran Rahman Taleh Wali, a Kurdish member of an Iraqi special forces unit. A volleyball game was going on when an argument escalated, the newspaper said.
Maj. Lee Peters, a military spokesman for U.S. forces in the north of Iraq, was quoted as saying, "We think this is an isolated incident, and it hasn’t broken our trust with the Iraqi security forces."
The Schofield soldiers were on security duty during a commander’s visit to the Iraqi commando base.
McClamrock has been married to Shannon McClamrock for two years, and his father, James, is the pastor at a church in North Carolina, television station WBTV reported.
The soldier has three brothers and two sisters.
Jenkins, who deployed to Iraq in June, leaves behind a wife and two children in Hawaii, the Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne, Ind., reported.
The 2002 graduate of Bellmont High School played saxophone in his school band and was a bagger at a local grocery store, the newspaper said.
"I don’t believe I’ve ever seen such a smile on his face as when I saw his picture holding his little girl," Janice Reynolds, Jenkins’ former band director and elementary school teacher, was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
"I don’t think anybody really expected anything like this would happen to him," said Jenkins’ uncle, Gary Hauter, in an interview with Indiana’s NewsCenter. "It was a pretty good shock. … He would not have it any other way. That’s what he wanted to do and that’s what he done."