Missing Soldiers' Bodies Said Found

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Jun 20, 2006 6:14 AM

AP:

Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore., disappeared after an insurgent attack Friday at a checkpoint by a Euphrates River canal south of Baghdad. Spc. David J. Babineau, 25, of Springfield, Mass., was killed.

The checkpoint was in the Sunni Arab region known as the "Triangle of Death" because of frequent ambushes there of U.S. soldiers and Iraqi troops.

The three men were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

"The news is going to be heartbreaking for my family," Menchaca's uncle, Ken MacKenzie, told NBC's "Today" show.

He said the United States should have paid a ransom for the two soldiers from money seized from Saddam Hussein.

Michelle Malkin has the text of PFC Tucker's last recorded phone message:


Be proud of me Mom, I'm defending my country. Tell sis and my nephews hello for me, I'm OK, I'm on my way.

Tucker's family released this statement earlier this week, which tells a little about their son:


Our son, Thomas Tucker was born in Prineville, Oregon. We moved to Madras where he and his sister were raised. He graduated Madras High School. For several years he worked in construction as a framer. Thomas has a great love of music and played the piano.

Kristian Menchaca's cousin talked about him earlier this week, in this heart-breaking interview with CNN:


An older cousin, Gabriela Garcia, said Menchaca -- with whom she grew up -- told her during his leave that he thought many of his fellow soldiers were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

"I asked him if he was, and he said 'No.' But that's not true," she said. "He was numb. He had to survive.

"He needed to go numb to survive. He couldn't allow himself to feel the fear. It seemed like he was in survival mode."

Still, his time in Iraq appeared to have imbued him with a sense of confidence and self-assurance that he hadn't had before, she added.

"He was not so timid, but he was still very caring," she said.

Asked what she would tell her cousin if he were watching, she said, "To not give up, that we love you, we want you home."

And to those who are holding him, she said, "Let him go. What's one person going to do for them? What's this going to prove?"

David Babineau, who was killed in the attack that led to the two kidnappings, dreamed of a long military career:

News of Babineau's death shocked those who knew him as a friendly student at the Springfield High School of Science and Technology.

"He died doing what he loved, what he wanted to be in life" Gladys Franco, one of Babineau's classmates who now teaches history at their alma mater, told WGGB-TV.

"It's sad that he had to go so young," she said.

As much as he wanted to be a soldier, Babineau had more than the military in his life. Before going to Iraq, he lived with his wife, his 8-year-old stepdaughter, and two sons, ages 4 and 2 in Oak Grove, Ky.

Keep their families in your prayers.