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Two soldiers from state die of Iraq injuries
Seattle Times staff reporter
Two Washington families are grieving the recent loss of soldiers who died from bomb explosions in Iraq.
On Monday, the Pentagon announced the deaths of Sgt. Justin Norton, 21, of Rainier, Thurston County, and Pfc. Devon Gibbons, 19, of Port Orchard. Both men were assigned to the 4th Infantry Division based at Fort Hood, Texas.
Norton died Saturday in the vicinity of Baghdad from injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated during a patrol.
Gibbons died Friday from wounds suffered April 11 in a roadside explosion in Taji, north of Baghdad. He was being treated at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio at the time of his death. He had lost his legs and his right arm and suffered burns over 90 percent of his body.
His parents, Mel and Bonnie Gibbons, had launched a Web site to post updates on his condition.
"Please do not dishonor his sacrifice by being angry," they wrote in the final entry. "He knowingly and willingly went to fight for others so they would be free and so the terrorists would never return to U.S. soil."
Gibbons' parents have been in Texas since their son was transferred to the Texas hospital.
Norton spent his childhood dressed in camouflage and playing Army, said his stepfather, Gary Warnock. "He watched a lot of movies. He saw himself playing one of those roles," Warnock said.
After enlisting while still in high school, Norton became an Army scout. When he returned home on leave in February, Norton had become a hardened soldier. "He was a changed man," said his stepfather.
Before Norton returned to Iraq, his stepfather said, he said he wanted to be cremated and his ashes placed in the veterans wall of a local cemetery.
Warnock said his stepson's unit was fired on, and the soldiers got out to investigate when an improvised explosive device went off.
Alex Fryer: 206-464-8124 or email@example.com
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