Originally created 08/01/05

Richmond County deputy killed in Iraq



CAMP STRIKER, Iraq -- An Augusta soldier is among four killed last weekend, and his comrades are feeling his loss.

In just under a week, a single infantry platoon in the 48th Brigade Combat Team has lost about a quarter of its men. The first four were killed by a massive underground bomb.

On Saturday, four more - including Sgt. David Jones, of Augusta - died the same way.

"We went from accepting death to expecting it," said Spc. Rodney Davidson, of Thomaston, Ga. "We're pretty numb right now."

The infantry soldiers of 2nd P latoon, Alpha C ompany, said goodbye Monday to Sgt. Jones and three other Georgia soldiers : Sgt. 1st Class Victor Anderson, of Ellaville; Spc. Jonathon Haggin, of Kingsland; and Spc. Ronnie Shelley, of Valdosta.

Sgt. Jones also was a sheriff's deputy in Richmond County. Spc. Davidson said Sgt. Jones wanted to be a military historian and could talk about every ship and every battle in every war going back to biblical times. He also enjoyed being a radio disc jockey , Spc. Davidson said.

When Sgt. Jones was injured in an earlier bomb attack, Spc. Davidson said, the other soldiers teased him about not being able to chew tobacco with a broken lip.

Sgt. Jones was a fun-loving person who had "a good way of explaining" everything, Spc. Davidson said. Soldiers in the platoon said they smile when thinking about his laugh.

"He's kind of like a big Santa Claus," said 2nd Lt. Joseph Latella, 24, of Dahlonega, Ga., the platoon leader.

Spc. Jeff Anderson, 36, of Gainesville, Ga., aid he switched shifts with Sgt. Jones on Saturday so that the sergeant could go to a doctor's appointment the next day.

"Words cannot describe (the grief)," Spc. Anderson said.

Lt. Col. Steve McCorkle, the battalion commander, said his battalion has captured about 300 suspected insurgents, including about 50 during the past three days. He said the size of the attacks against his men proves that the enemy has been rattled by their accomplishments.

"He struck in desperation," Lt. Col. McCorkle said. "Why else would he use 700 or 800 pounds of explosives just to blow up a Humvee? We're obviously making an impact."

Lt. Col. McCorkle said he's been hurt by the recent loss of soldiers and friends. But he said the surviving members will continue to bring the fight to the enemy.

"These men will not die in vain," he said. "I can guarantee that."

Reach Gray Beverley at gray@ganews.org.