KIRKUK, Iraq — A 21-year-old private first class from Schofield Barracks was shot in the arm, and a 35-year-old staff sergeant received an eye injury in attacks in northern Iraq this week, officials said.
The injuries are among the most serious since about 4,000 25th Infantry Division (Light) soldiers recently arrived in the country for a year-long tour of duty.
Schofield soldiers have been taking part in joint missions with the 173rd Airborne Brigade out of Italy and the 4th Infantry Division, including raids, cordon and searches and sweeps for bombs.
The two injuries, neither of which was life threatening, occurred in the western operating area around the city of Al Huwijah and forward operating base McHenry, a largely Arab section at the upper tip of the so-called "Sunni Triangle" where many attacks have occured on U.S. forces.
Both soldiers were sent to Landstuhl, Germany, for treatment. Their families have been notified of the injuries, officials said.
On Tuesday, Pfc. Chris Tenayuca, 21, from San Antonio, Texas, was shot in the bicep during an Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry cordon and search in Al Huwijah, said Capt. Nathan Minami, 2nd Brigade assistant operations officer.
The McHenry base had been receiving mortar strikes for the past several nights, and alpha company was looking for the source.
As the company arrived, a man was spotted with a rocket-propelled grenade, Minami said. Shots were exchanged with the man and three others. The men were captured with two AK-47 assault rifles, a rocket-propelled grenade, bomb-making material and a shotgun, Minami said.
One of the men had a gunshot wound to the leg, and was treated at Kirkuk Air Base.
The second injury occurred Wednesday south of the McHenry base during a bomb sweep of major routes. Staff Sgt. Christopher Hendry, 35, of Fort Worth, Texas, received an eye injury when a bomb exploded at the right front of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle he was riding in with soldiers from the 4th Division out of Fort Hood, Texas.
The soldiers with Schofield’s Bravo Company, 1-27, were heading back to base.
Nine individuals were detained and brought to Kirkuk Air Base, including one with a rocket-propelled grenade, Minami said.
The 25th Division is scheduled to formally take responsibility for the Kirkuk region on Feb. 19. Kirkuk is an oil-rich and ethnically diverse city of 1 million people.
"You always have a steep line curve in the beginning as you get new guys on the ground, but we’ll be starting at a higher level because of the work they (the 173rd) have done," said 2nd Brigade commander Col. Lloyd Miles. "The troops are very savvy, and they can adapt to do these different types of missions."
The 25th Division’s area of responsibility, meanwhile, has more than doubled in size. With a region added to the east that includes 700 miles of Iranian border, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team has the biggest area of responsibility for a U.S. brigade-sized element in Iraq.
The area used to be about the size of New Hampshire. Now it’s that big plus Vermont and Massachusetts.