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Originally published Monday, October 15, 2012 at 7:39 PM

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Bombs in Afghanistan kill 2 Lewis-McChord soldiers

Two Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers — Spc. Brittany Gordon, 24, of St. Petersburg, Fla., and Sgt. Robert Billings, 30, of Clarksville, Va. — died Saturday in southern Afghanistan from IEDs.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Two Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers died Saturday in southern Afghanistan from improvised explosive devices, bombs that insurgents plant in roads, trails and other sites.

Spc. Brittany Gordon, 24, of St. Petersburg, Fla., died on her first overseas deployment with the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. She was assigned to a military intelligence company.

In a separate IED blast, Sgt. Robert Billings, 30, of Clarksville, Va., was killed while serving with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. Billings had previously served in Iraq, and in Afghanistan was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment.

IEDs have been one of the primary weapons wielded by Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. During the three years that ended in December 2011, IEDs accounted for nearly 60 percent of U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan, according to Defense Manpower Data Center statistics.

Service members from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, south of Tacoma, have played a big role in Afghanistan this year. Most of them have served in southern Afghanistan, which has been a focal point of this year's military campaign. So far this year, 30 JBLM soldiers serving in Afghanistan have died.

Gordon, who joined the Army in 2010, was serving in Kandahar province at the time of her death. She had arrived in Afghanistan in April 2012 and would have returned to the U.S. around the end of this year.

She was the daughter of St. Petersburg Assistant Police Chief Cedric Gordon.

"I know that Chief Gordon was extremely proud of Brittany and all that she accomplished in her life," St. Petersburg Police Chief Chuck Harmon said in a statement released to Florida media. "Her life of service and especially service to her country stand as a testament to the type of person she was."

Billings joined the Army in 2006 and arrived at Lewis-McChord in June 2009. From September 2009 to August 2010, he served in Iraq with the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

At the time of his death, Billings was in Spin Boldak, an area of Kandahar province near the Pakistan border.

Hal Bernton: 206-464-2581 or hbernton@seattletimes.com

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