A graduate of North Garland High School was killed in Baghdad when an improvised explosive device detonated near the military vehicle he was riding in, the Defense Department announced Monday.
It appears that Army Lt. Col. Eric Kruger had been in Baghdad only days before he was killed Thursday. Military officials said the 40-year-old's mission was training Iraqi civilians and police and working on reconstruction efforts in Baghdad.
Two other soldiers, Lt. Col. Paul J. Finken of Mason City, Iowa, and Staff Sgt. Joseph A. Gage of Modesto, Calif., were also killed in the explosion.
Col. Kruger's unit had been sent to replace the one that Col. Finken was leading, and the two were riding together in preparation for the transfer of duties when the bomb detonated.
Col. Kruger grew up in Garland and graduated from North Garland High in 1984. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Southern Methodist University before taking a commission in the Army in 1989.
His Army unit was based at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Colo., and news reports have said he was the highest-ranking officer from Fort Carson to be killed in the war.
Col. Kruger was serving his third tour of duty in the Middle East. He had served in Bahrain in 1997 and 1998 and had been deployed to Afghanistan before his assignment in Iraq. He earned several honors, including the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Awards and an Army Commendation medal. Army officials said it wasn't clear whether any of those awards were presented after his death.
Family members couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Today is also election day, and I don't say that in this thread because I have any sort of political bent. Just go vote.