Valley Soldier Dies in Iraq | Her Death is Under Investigation

August 19, 2008 7:05:33 PM PDT
The Department of Defense says Army Private Janelle King of Merced was serving in Iraq as a Health Care Specialist.Officials say the 23 year old died in Baghdad on Thursday from a non-combat related cause. But the circumstances surrounding her death are still under investigation.

Private King joined the army in May of 2007 and was assigned to the 115th combat hospital out of Fort Polk, Louisiana in January.

Late this afternoon Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a statement in honor of Private King. He said, quote, "Our nation has suffered a great loss with the death of Private Janelle King. She served bravely to protect the safety of her fellow citizens, and Californians will never forget her sacrifice." He added that flags at the capitol will be flown at half staff.

Army officials say king is survived by her mother and father, and her mother still lives in Merced.

However, school district officials say Private King did not attend high school here. Again, her exact cause of death has not been released.

Private King is the fifth military service member, and second woman from Merced County to be killed in Iraq.

25-year old Sergeant Frank Gasper was killed in May, when the vehicle he was in was struck by a roadside bomb.

Marine Corporal Josh Pickard was killed in battle in December of 2006. The Merced native was twenty years old.

In September 2006, Le Grand Native Cesar Granados was killed in a roadside bomb attack.

He had just turned twenty-one. And in November of 2003 Livingston Native Karina Lau was killed in a helicopter crash near Baghdad, along with fifteen other soldiers.

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