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Army sergeant with relatives in Fredericksburg area is killed during ammunition explosion in Iraq
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Date published: 2/13/2004
By CATHY DYSON
An Army scout--whose grandmother, uncles and cousin live in the Fredericksburg area--was killed in Iraq on Monday after an explosion of Iraqi ammunition.
Sgt. Thomas D. Robbins, 27, was near Mosul in northern Iraq, where a large collection of rocket-propelled grenades and mortar rounds had been confiscated from the Iraqis, according to the Department of Defense.
As he and other soldiers were moving the unexploded ordnance to a demolition site, one of the rounds exploded, said Joe Hitt, an Army spokesman at Fort Lewis, Wash., where Robbins was based.
The explosion killed Robbins and an Arizona National Guardsman and wounded five others. The incident is listed as a "non-hostile ordnance accident" on the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count site, but is being investigated by the Department of Defense.
Robbins grew up in the Delmar area of New York state, southwest of Albany, where he played high-school soccer, ran track and was an active member of the local Boy Scouts, according to a story in the Albany Times Union.
Many of his relatives still live in the Albany area.
Robbins also has family members in Spotsylvania, Stafford and King George counties, including his 90-year-old paternal grandmother. His uncle, David Robbins, politely declined an interview, saying the family needs to grieve privately.
The Army sergeant is the fourth person with connections to the Fredericksburg area to die in Iraq since July. As of yesterday, 538 American service members have been killed since military operations began almost a year ago.
Robbins leaves behind a wife and 5-month-old daughter in Washington state, his parents and a brother in the Albany area, and a sister in Massachusetts.
He joined the Army in 1998 and spent a year in Korea before he was assigned to Fort Lewis in spring 2000. He worked as a calvary scout with the Stryker brigade's 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment.
The Strykers are state-of-the art vehicles that provide more protection than Humvees and trucks, but can move faster and easier than tanks, said Capt. Tim Beninato, a public affairs officer at Fort Lewis. The Strykers can carry up to 11 infantrymen and move as fast as 60 miles per hour.