Iraq militants may have captured Reno sergeant, two other soldiers


Army Sgt. Anthony J. Schober, 23, of Reno, is one of three soldiers listed as missing and who might have been captured by militants in Iraq after a pre-dawn ambush Saturday in Al Taqa, Iraq, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in a statement that Schober was one of three who went missing after the attack but a news release from the Department of Defense lists Schober and three others as "duty status whereabouts unknown."

The others are Spc. Alex R. Jimenez, 25, of Lawrence, Mass.; Pfc. Joseph J. Anzack Jr., 20, of Torrance, Calif.; and Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Mich.

The patrol of two vehicles carrying seven U.S. soldiers and one Iraqi interpreter was "attacked by enemy forces using automatic fire and explosives," according to the Pentagon statement.

The bodies of four U.S. soldiers and the Iraqi soldier were recovered but one of the dead U.S. soldiers had not been positively identified Tuesday. He was listed among the missing.

DNA tests being conducted on the badly burned body were expected to be completed today.

Three of the dead soldiers were identified Tuesday by the Department of Defense as Sgt. 1st Class James D. Connell Jr., 40, of Lake City, Tenn.; Pfc. Daniel W. Courneya, 19, of Nashville, Mich.; and Pfc. Christopher E. Murphy, 21, of Lynchburg, Va.

All the U.S. soldiers were assigned to the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division out of Fort Drum, N.Y.

Nevada National Guard officials met with Schober's mother and stepfather Tuesday but did not release their names.

"They're absolutely filled with hope that he's still alive," Guard spokesman Eric Ritter said.

"They said as a kid he was very good at hiding, and they hope he's still good at hiding," Ritter added.

An insurgent group, the Islamic State of Iraq, has claimed responsibility for the attack. The group posted a statement on a Web site saying it has the soldiers "in our hands. If you want their safety, do not look for them," the message said.

The chief spokesman for the coalition forces in Iraq, Army Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, has acknowledged that the group had probably captured the soldiers.

Earlier Tuesday, the Multi-National Corps Public Affairs Office at Camp Victory, Iraq said coalition and Iraqi forces continue to work around the clock to find three U.S. soldiers who have been missing since the attack.

"Every asset has been brought to bear in the hunt for the missing troops ... including search dogs, trucks with speakers, unmanned aerial vehicles, law enforcement advisers and both U.S. and Iraqi troops," the statement from Camp Victory said.

The statement by Reid, the Senate majority leader, said the news "is particularly saddening for the people of Nevada as we hear that one of our own is among the missing."

"The news of the three missing soldiers has all of America praying for their quick and safe return," Reid said. "I know the military is doing everything it can to locate the soldiers."

In a telephone interview, Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., said, "First as a mother ... my heart, believe me, goes out to the family. I can't imagine how this poor family feels not knowing the fate of their loved one."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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