HAMMOND, Ind. - A soldier from Hammond killed in Iraq was looking forward to civilian life and starting a family with his wife, his sister said.
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Staff Sgt. Jonathan Rojas, 27, was killed Tuesday by small arms fire in Baghdad, Army Maj. Kirk Gohlke said. No other soldiers were injured. Rojas was assigned to the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.
Rojas was at the top of a tank instructing other soldiers when a sniper's bullet hit him in the back of the head, Rojas' family said.
Rojas, who was based at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, was assigned to the brigade's 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment.
He was born in Mexico, joined family in Hammond in 1990 and graduated from Hammond High School in 1997. After serving seven years in the military, Rojas was looking forward to being a civilian and starting a family with his wife, Tasha Lynn, said his younger sister, Isaura Rojas.
Rojas was the 66th person from Indiana to have died after being sent to the Mideast since the buildup for the invasion of Iraq began in 2003.
Rojas was the fourth member of Strykers to die since the unit in July had its deployment extended up to 120 days. Members of the Fort Wainwright-based brigade were told just days before they were preparing to return to Alaska that their one-year tour in Iraq would be extended. Some soldiers had already returned to Alaska and were sent back to Iraq.
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski announced this week that she received word from Army officials that the 4,000-member combat team will not be extended again, meaning the Stryker soldiers should return to Alaska by mid-December.