Northwest Digest

Posted: Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Fort Wainwright soldier killed in Iraq

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FORT WAINWRIGHT - A Fort Wainwright soldier was killed in Iraq, the second to die since the 172nd Stryker Brigade had its deployment extended, an Army spokesman said Monday.

The soldier, whose name has not been released, was killed by small-arms fire on Sunday while conducting a mounted patrol in Baghdad, U.S. Army Alaska spokesman Maj. Kirk Gohlke said.

There were no other injuries, Gohlke said.

The Pentagon on Sept. 5 announced the death of Staff Sgt. Eugene H.E. Alex, 32, of Bay City, Mich., the first Stryker killed since the nearly 4,000-member strong combat team's yearlong tour of duty was extended in July.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld visited Fort Wainwright on Aug. 26 , saying he could not promise that the unit's tour of duty would not be extended even further. But he said he thought it likely that the soldiers would be back home before Christmas.

Washington tribe running low on water

SEATTLE - The Makah Indian Nation at Neah Bay gets an average 105.6 inches of rain each year, making it one of the rainiest spots in the nation. But most of it falls over the winter and the community's reservoir is so low this dry summer that tribal leaders are borrowing a desalination unit from a Navy base in California until the rains begin.

"This is the first time it's been this low," Chairman Ben Johnson said Sunday of the remote tribe's reservoir, fed by the Wa'atch River.

"We're in bad shape out here," Johnson said. "Neah Bay is dry like a desert. ... We can't use water for anything other than cooking and drinking."

The 17-ton unit - designed to remove the salt from seawater at a rate of 100,000 gallons a day - arrived Monday at the northwest tip of the Olympic Peninsula after a three-day haul on a semi tractor-trailer rig from Naval Base Ventura County.

The unit will be set up at Coast Guard Station Neah Bay on the edge of town, and likely will stay "'til the rain starts," Johnson said. "Hopefully we won't have to have it too long. It costs a lot of money to run it."

He estimated costs at $7,000 a day. The diesel-powered unit is operated by two men, he said.

The water level in the tribe's reservoir had been holding at 26 feet since Thursday, enough to last the reservation's 2,300 residents, including about 1,800 tribal members, about a day and a half. The Makah have sought bids for a new water plant, but the proposals so far have been "out of this world," Johnson said.

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