Soldier From Shubuta Killed In Iraq

A 21-year-old soldier from Shubuta was killed this past weekend in the crash of two Black Hawk helicopters in Iraq, the Army and family members confirmed. Relatives said Tuesday they were notified of Pfc. Damian L. Heidelberg's death on Sunday.

Heidelberg is the second soldier from Mississippi to be identified among the 17 servicemen who died in Saturday's crash. Heidelberg, who entered the military Sept. 17, 2002, was a member of the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne based in Fort Campbell, Ky.

"This is really rough on our family,'' said Phyllis Heidelberg, the soldier's aunt. "He was such a wonderful young man, sweet and mild-mannered. He was slow to speak, loved to go to church and always had a big smile.''

Deborah Heidelberg, the soldier's mother, said she could not discuss any details about her son's death. Military officials have not determined the cause of the crash - the deadliest single incident involving American servicemen since the Iraq war began March 20.

Phyllis Heidelberg said funeral arrangements could not be made until the family receives additional information from the military. She said she has another nephew in the military.

"He's come back home. He's in Georgia, thank God,'' she said.

According to the Army, Damian Heidelberg was an administrative specialist. He was the ninth Mississippian to die in Iraq.

On Monday, family members confirmed that Jeremy DiGiovanni of Pike County was crew chief on one of the helicopters and died in the crash.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)