Two Oregon National Guard soldiers killed, one injured in Iraq

Two Oregon National Guard soldiers killed, one injured in Iraq
Private First Class Taylor D. Marks, 19, of Monmouth, Ore., and Sgt. Earl G. Werner, 38, died when their convoy was hit by an explosive, the Oregon Military Department said.

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Two Oregon National Guard members were killed and one wounded during a convoy security mission in eastern Baghdad, Iraq, on Friday.

SpecialistTaylor D. Marks, 19, of Monmouth, Ore., and Sgt. Earl G. Werner, 38, died when their convoy was hit by an explosive, the Oregon Military Department said.

Oregon's Charlie Company flew Spc. Reid Walch to Balad Theater Hospital. Walch was sent to Germany that night to begin his recovery and start his way back to the U.S.

The soldiers are members of the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team from Oregon now serving in Iraq performing convoy security. The 41st is headquartered in Tigard, Ore.

They are the first fatalities for the 41st Infantry. The team suffered its first casualty earlier this month when gunner Jeremy Pierce, 22, of Salem, Ore., lost his left leg, all the toes on his right foot and part of a finger when an improvised explosive device ripped through his armored security vehicle, trapping him in the turret.

Oregon soldiers with Charlie Company are also serving in Iraq performing medevac missions.

Private First Class Taylor D. Marks, 19

Marks was killed in the incident in Rashid, Iraq on Aug. 28, 2009 when his convoy was struck by an explosive formed penetrator and was serving with the 41st Special Troops Battalion (STB), 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

Pvt. Taylor Marks was born in Salem, Ore. on Nov. 9, 1989.  The military posthumously promoted Marks to the rank of Specialist from Private First.

He was raised in Monmouth, Ore.  He was a graduate of Central High School and joined the Oregon Army National Guard attending a training with a friend.  His thoughts were to join the military and continue his education.  He was contracted to go to the Defense Language Institute at the Presidio in California, but made the decision to defer his schooling in order to deploy with the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

He is survived by his mother Michelle and stepfather Don; sister Courtney age 15; brother Alex age 19 of Monmouth, Ore, and father Morey Marks of Salem, Ore.

The Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Ken Nygren stated in a message from Iraq, "All the STB leadership were present to support our soldiers at the ramp ceremony in Iraq.  It was a sad event, but very evident that the unit is very cohesive and still very proudly STB.  They are serving Oregon and the nation well."

Sgt. Earl D. Werner, 38

Werner was killed in the incident in Rashid, Iraq on Aug. 28, 2009 when his convoy was struck by an explosive formed penetrator and was  serving with the 41st Special Troops Battalion (STB), 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team. 

Werner was on his third deployment with the Oregon National Guard.  His first deployment was as part of the 2nd Battalion, 162 Infantry in 2004.  Later he deployed with the 234th Engineer Company in 2007 before transferring to the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team for deployment.

During his time with the Oregon National Guard, Werner was awarded the Bronze Star, two Army Commendation Medals and the Combat Action Badge.

He is survived by his wife Casey and son Charles, 19, of the Amboy, Wash. area.

The Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Ken Nygren stated in a message from Iraq, "All the STB leadership were present to support our soldiers at the ramp ceremony in Iraq.  It was a sad event, but very evident that the unit is very cohesive and still very proudly STB.  They are serving Oregon and the nation well."