Re: A Soldier Dies in Iraq on Christmas

Last week, I posted an item about 29-year-old Spc. Aaron Preston, who was killed on Christmas in Baghdad when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Three other soldiers died with him. Preston died just as the media was counting corpses at year's end, and quickly his name became a number as the total climbed, then passed, yet another gruesome milestone.

Every day since then, I have gone back to this Web site to see if, since last week, someone has updated the memorial page for Preston with some newspaper story or personal recollection or even a single picture. A small photo of Preston appeared in The New York Times yesterday -- along with the mug shots of the more than 3,000 other U.S. soldiers who've been killed in Iraq since March 2003.

As of last night, there had been no update posted. Then again, the person running The Iraq Page has been busier than usual of late: One-hundred thirteen U.S. service members were reported killed in December, making it the bloodiest month of 2006.

But on Sunday night I did find this from story dated December 29: an obituary from the Waxahachie Daily Light, in which it says Preston will be buried in Midlothian, where his sister Mariah Coward lives, this week. This morning, The Iraq Page also found the story from the Daily Light.

In eight more months, says his brother--in-law Noel Coward (yes, fine, let it out), Aaron would have been out of the Army, where he served in the Corps of Engineers. He was a bomb-defuser. Preston, who the story says lived in Preston Hollow, had been in the service for three years and in Iraq for six months.

Other things you might want to know aout Aaron Preston: He sent his brother-in-law an e-mail two das before Christmas. He complained of being overworked and understaffed, writes the Daily Light's Floyd Ingram. Says Noel: "I've got a stack of e-mails where he said they needed to triple the number of troops, crack down on the violence and end this thing." Coward also says that Preston's grandfather "was a Marine in World War II and was on Iwo Jima's Mt. Suribachi and saw the raising of the American flag...[and] Preston and his grandfather wrote to each other often."

He will be buried in Midlothian as soon as the military returns his personal effects to the family, which should be this week. --Robert Wilonsky