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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Two Michigan soldiers are killed in Iraq

The Detroit News:

A Michigan soldier was killed Friday in Iraq, part of a recent surge in attacks that have left 18 U.S. troops dead in the past week.

A second Michigan soldier died Monday from noncombat injuries, the Defense Department announced Tuesday.

The two soldiers were identified as Sgt. Brad A. Wentz, 21, of Gladwin and Army Spc. Joshua T. Brazee, 25, of Sand Creek, near Adrian.

Wentz had put aside his reservations about returning to Iraq because that was his duty.

Wentz, the fourth generation of his family to serve in the military, came home in April for two weeks leave and told his grandmother, Michelle Hisey, that he was concerned about going back to Iraq.

"Brad did make a statement that he didn't want to go back (to Iraq) but he gave his word. He made a commitment and he wanted to honor that commitment," Hisey said. "No matter what our feelings are about the war, this is a military family and being a military family you follow orders."

Wentz, 21, a member of the Army Reserve's 180th Transportation Company based in Muskegon, was killed on Friday when the convoy he was in was attacked on a main supply route in Iraq.

The family of Joshua Brazee, who died from non-combat related injuries on Monday in Al Qaim, declined to comment Tuesday night.

Steve Laundra, the principal of Sand Creek Junior Senior High School, was the assistant principal at the school when Brazee attended classes there and graduated in 1998.

"He was a good, wholesome country kid who was an average to good student," Laundra said. "He stayed out of trouble."

He said Brazee has a brother who is in the 10th grade at the Sand Creek school. Laundra and other school staffers learned about Brazee's death when his mother called the school Tuesday to notify them his younger brother would not be at school.

"It's unfortunate," Laundra said. "A lot of them (soldiers) are giving up so much for us."

Brazee was assigned to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Fort Carson, Colo.

Wentz, a 2002 graduate of Gladwin High School, grew up in the community of about 2,700 people in the central part of the Lower Peninsula. He married his high school sweetheart, Tami, and they were to have their second wedding anniversary today, his grandmother said. They have a 15-month-old daughter, Jerzee.

Hisey said her grandson enlisted in the Army Reserves in July 2001. He considered active duty before being called up, but decided against it because he didn't want to be away too long from his wife and daughter, Hisey said.

In addition to his wife, daughter and grandmother, survivors include his mother, Shelly; his father, Christopher; and a sister, Brandy.


"We want people to remember this is Memorial Day weekend and this is why we celebrate. It is a remembrance," Hisey said. "There are so many families like ours."

Since the war started in March 2003, 51 service members with ties to Michigan have been killed in Iraq.

Both younger than me.



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