IED blast kills Leggett soldier in Iraq
Polk County Enterprise, April 2007
WASHINGTON — Former Leggett resident Pfc. Rodney L. McCandless died April 7 in Zaganiyah, Iraq, a Defense Department spokesman said Tuesday.
An improvised explosive device detonated near a unit from the 82nd Airborne Division and claimed the lives of four soldiers, including McCandless, the DoD statement said.
The other soldiers killed in the blast were Capt. Jonathan D. Grassbaugh, 25, of East Hempstead, N.H.; Spc. Ebe F. Emolo 33, of Greensboro, N.C. and Spc. Levi K. Hoover, 23, of Midland, Mich.
A total of 10 Americans were killed in action over the Easter weekend, heaviest losses since the beginning of President George W. Bush’s escalation of action in Iraq.
Fellow Texan, 1st Lt. Phillip Neel of Fredricksburg was also killed Sunday in Balad when attackers hurled a grenades at his squad from the 1st Cavalry Division based at Fort Hood.
Friends and family of the young soldier have spent the first few days of coming to terms with the loss by sharing stories of the sweet tow-headed boy who attended Leggett schools in early grades.
The paratrooper is survived by numerous family members in Polk County.
His parents are Lynn McCandless and Rhonda McCandless of Leggett. He is also survived by a sister, Chastity McCandless and two brothers, Ron and James Sumner.
Funeral directors expect to release a full obituary for Sunday’s edition of the Enterprise.
McCandless had just returned to Iraq last week after a two-week leave which included a visit with his grandparents in southweatern Arkansas, a family spokesperson said.
Funeral arrangements are pending with Cochran Funeral Home of Livingston.
Preliminary reports indicate McCandless will be returned to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Wednesday night and will then return to Livingston.