Bodies Of Missing Soldiers Found In Iraq

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The Defense Department has confirmed that the remains of two soldiers kidnapped in May 2007 were discovered Wednesday and identified Thursday. The two were abducted in the area known as the "triangle of death," which is south of Baghdad.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And I'm Melissa Block. We're learning more today about how the bodies of two U.S. soldiers were found this week. The soldiers went missing in Iraq 14 months ago. Sergeant Alex Jimenez and Private First Class Byron Fouty were members of the 10th Mountain Division.

Last spring, their patrol was attacked by al-Qaida in Iraq, south of Baghdad. NPR's Tom Bowman reports.

TOM BOWMAN: An Army chaplain showed up yesterday afternoon at the Michigan home of Fouty's stepfather, Gordon Dibler, the same chaplain who came last year to say Fouty was missing. This time the chaplain had another message.

Unidentified Man: That they had positively identified Byron's remains.

BOWMAN: Found just two days ago, outside a village south of Baghdad, miles from where the attack happened. Nearby, the remains of Sergeant Jimenez. Jimenez's father Andy talked with WCBB TV in Boston through a translator.

Mr. ANDY JIMENEZ (Father): (Through translator) It's closure that now we know what's happening, but I don't know if it alleviates it for me. We now know what it is, if it's one thing or the other.

BOWMAN: The two men's patrol came under attack in May, 2007, an attack that also killed five comrades. Fouty and Jimenez were carried off into a palm grove, in the early-morning darkness.

Gordon Dibler last spoke with Fouty just before the attack, on April 17th, an easy day to remember, he says.

Mr. GORDON DIBLER (Stepfather): That was his actual 19th birthday.

BOWMAN: Dibler could sense a tension, almost a fear in Alex's voice. The 10th Mountain Division was trying to rout al-Qaida from a wide swath of villages and farms, an area known as the triangle of death.

Mr. DIBLER: Yeah, we told each other that we loved each other, and I told him how proud I was of him and that we were here for him.

BOWMAN: Shortly after the attack, the men's identification cards were found in Samarra, a city north of Baghdad. Last fall their weapons were located, buried in an arms cache four miles from where they were taken. Soldiers kept searching, following up on hundreds of tips. NPR visited their battalion last October as they were preparing to head home without Fouty and Jimenez. Specialist Sean Gopol(ph) talked about Jimenez at the time, their plans of becoming MPs one day, how they loved to sing Spanish rigaton(ph).

Specialist SEAN GOPOL (United States Army): He was like my brother, he really was.

BOWMAN: Now the area where the soldiers died is relatively quiet. The U.S. is paying thousands of former Sunni insurgents to keep the peace. Tom Bowman, NPR News, Washington.

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