Spec. Alex R. Jimenez, 25, of Lawrence, Mass., and Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, 19 of Waterford, Mich., were seized May 12 when hostile forces attacked and overran a checkpoint during an operation to watch for insurgents placing roadside bombs on a dangerous road south of Baghdad. The body of Pfc. Joseph Anzack Jr., who also went missing in the attack, was found 11 days later in the Euphrates River.
That was May 12, and soon the 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division , the Army brigade that has served the most time on the battlefield since 2001 is coming home. The brigade is in its 14th month of an extended 15-month tour, the most-deployed brigade in the U.S. Army. On its return home, expected to be completed over the next several weeks, it will have served overseas 40 months since December 2001. Casualties taken by the 3,600-member brigade have totaled 52 killed and more than 270 wounded in action, and 2 missing, Spec. Alex R. Jimenez and Pvt. Byron W. Fouty.
Their identification cards were later found in an al-Qaida safe house north of Baghdad, along with video production equipment, computers and weapons. The house was more than 100 miles from the area where they disappeared. The Islamic State of Iraq, an al-Qaida front group, claimed in a video posted on the Internet the soldiers were killed and buried. Detainees and other intelligence sources have provided varying accounts of whether the missing troops are still alive. In the last week, one significant intelligence thread indicated that at least they were potentially alive recently, but another that said they had been killed shortly after the attack. So the search goes on.
The 2nd Brigade will be replaced in Iraq by the 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division. In the transition over the coming weeks, they will be briefed on lessons learned by the 2nd Brigade over the last 14 months.
It is expected that the 3rd Brigade will continue the search.