An Iowa National Guard spokesman says although one guardmember was killed by a roadside explosion in Iraq Sunday, four others are likely alive because of the type of Humvee they drove. 29-year-old Lieutenant Richard Gienau died when the Humvee was struck by an explosive device in Iraq Sunday. Iowa Guard spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Gregg Hapgood, says Gienau was in the right front seat commanding the mission. He says the humvee they were traveling in was a level two “uparmor” vehicle, which he says can stand a substantial blast. He says, “The fact that four of our soldiers survived after that blast shows that number one, the armor’s doing its job. But number two it was a susbstantial I-E-D (improvised explosive device) to cause that much damage to that vehicle.” The soldiers were all part of the 224th Engineer Battalion based in Burlington. Gienau was a native of Tripoli, Iowa who graduated from the University of Northern Iowa and was living and working in Peoria, Illinois. Hapgood says it’s difficult to have another guardmember lose his life. He says , “every single time we have an incident we’re holding our breath for the safety of our soldiers.” Hapgood says the loss is felt throughout the guard. He says,”The global war on terror has taken its toll nine times now for the Iowa National Guard. And we’re and extended family. He says they have 96-hundred members in the Guard and he says they’re very close. And says, “it’s very difficult when you lose a member of the family.” The other soldiers injured in the blast are: 22-year-old sergeant Timothy Shay of Muscatine; 23-year-old specialist Justin Edgington of West Burlington; 22-year-old specialist Seth Garceau of Oelwein, and 32-year-old specialist Dennis Smutzer of Moline, Illinois. Gienau’s mother lives in Dunkerton, and his father in Waterloo. Gienau also leaves behind a son.
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