The death of an Iowa National Guard soldier brought to light a unique circumstance in the release of information on military deaths. The Iowa Guard confirmed the death of 22-year-old Seth Garceau of Oelwein in a news conference Saturday — although his death had been already reported by the media. Iowa Guard spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Greg Hapgood says, despite the media reports, he had to wait to give the official confirmation of Garceau until Saturday. He says there’s a federal law regarding the release of the information about soldiers who’ve died requiring them to wait 24 hours after the last next of kin has been notified before releasing the information. Garceau died Friday of injures he received as a result of a bomb blast in Iraq February 27th while he served with the 224th Engineering Battalion in Burlington. (Humvee from blast shown in above photo) Hapgood says Garceau’s injuries created a unique situation. He says given the grave nature of Garceau’s injuries, the Department of Defense flew the family to a military hospital in Germany to see him. Hapgood says Garceau had “Living Will” and was taken off life support after his family arrived. Hapgood says the “Living Will” is a choice a soldier can make and can get help from the Iowa Guard’s lawyer to write the will. He says that’s a choice Garceau made. Garceau was the second Iowa guardmember to die as a result of the bomb blast. 29-year-old Second Lieutenant Brian Gienau, a native of Tripoli, Iowa died at the scene of the blast. Garceau is survived by his mother Lori, father Rick and sister Tess, all who live in Oelwein. Hapgood says Garceau’s death strikes another blow to the Iowa Guard. He says, “Many people knew specialist Garceau. He was an excellent soldier. A very typical member of the Iowa National Guard in some respects that they were a person who really had a feeling that they needed to serve to help the world in this particular case. He was no different.” Hapgood says, “Every time we lose a soldier it hurts us very deeply.” Three other soldiers were injured in the explosion, 23-year-old Specialist Justin Edgington of West Burlington; 32-year-old Specialist Dennis Smutzer and 22-year-old Timothy Shay of Muscatine. Hapgood says Edgington has returned to duty in Iraq and is still receiving some outpatient care.He says Smutzer has been evacuated to the U.S. and Shay is still in Germany awaiting evacuation to the U.S. Hapgood says he does not have any additional information on the conditions of Smutzer and Shay. Hapgood says services for Lieutenant Gienau are Wednesday at 10 a.m. in Cedar Falls.
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