June 25, 2009

Flags lowered to honor war casualties

Under a proclamation signed by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, the United States flag and the Illinois flag are at half-staff at all State of Illinois facilities in honor of two Illinois National Guard members killed last week by a roadside bomb while serving in the military in the war in Afghanistan.

Flags are flying at half-staff from today (June 25) until sunset, Saturday, June 27, in honor of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Joshua A. Melton and U.S. Army Sgt. Paul G. Smith.

Reports indicate that Melton, 26, of Germantown, and Smith, 43, of East Peoria, died Friday, June 19, when an improvised explosive device hit their vehicle while on patrol in Kandahar. Two other Illinois National Guard soldiers were injured in the attack.

Both men had been in Afghanistan since October.

Smith joined the Guard in 1993, and served two nine-month tours in Iraq -- from 2003 to 2004, and 2005 to 2006. Smith was assigned to Troop C, 2nd Battalion, 106th Calvary based in Aurora. Melton enlisted in the Guard in 2000 before he graduated from Central Community High School in Breese, according to reports. He served in Iraq for 14 months beginning in December 2004. Melton was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry based in Marion.

According to an Illinois National Guard release, Melton and Smith are the 13th and 14th casualties from the Guard’s 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team since deployment to Afghanistan last fall, and the Guard’s 29th and 30th casualties since operations started in both Iraq and Afghanistan.