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Marshallese Soldier Seriously Injured in Iraq Fighting



Majuro, Marshall Islands (April 9, 2008) - A Marshall Islander serving in the U.S. Army has lost part of his left arm as a result of injuries when his armored Humvee was attacked in Iraq last week.

U.S. Army Private Carl "Superman" Reiher is now recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the U.S. He is the second Marshall Islander in the Army to sustain serious injuries since the war started in Iraq in 2003.

Several hundred Marshall Islanders have joined the U.S. armed services since the early 2000s. A Compact of Free Association between the U.S. and the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau -- three former U.S. territories in the Western Pacific -- allows islanders to join the military. Most Marshall Islanders join the U.S. Army and serve tours of duty in the Middle East. Several dozen Marshall Islanders are believed to be serving in the Middle East currently, but a precise number is unknown.

The firefight involving Reiher¹s unit occurred last week in an unspecified region of Iraq.

The Humvee in which Reiher's unit was traveling came under attack from what is believed to be an improvised explosive device, a family member said on Wednesday in Majuro. As the soldiers leaped out of the burning vehicle, they were hit by rifle fire that killed soldiers on either side of Reiher. He was wounded by at least three bullets, a family member said.

He was first evacuated to Germany for medical treatment, and then flown to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. for further treatment at the weekend.

Reiher's left arm was amputated below the elbow as a result of the injuries sustained in the attack. He is also receiving skin grafts for burns and other treatment for his multiple wounds. He is in stable condition, the family member said.

In 2005, U.S. Army Sgt. Paul Lejjena, a Marshall Islander, was also seriously injured.