Mr. Sammie E. Phillips

Guard soldier, 19, dies in Iraq

FRANKFORT -- A 19-year-old Kentucky National Guard soldier died Monday in Iraq when his vehicle overturned during a mission.

The crash that killed Pfc. Sammie E. Phillips of Vine Grove also injured two other Kentucky guardsmen, military officials said yesterday.

The injured soldiers were not identified.

Phillips' unit commander, Capt. Robert S. Mattingly, said Phillips was "an excellent soldier who had unlimited potential."

"I never met a person that didn't like Sammie Phillips," Mattingly said.

Laura McGray, a former teacher and assistant principal at North Hardin High School, remembered the 2006 graduate. "He was an outgoing young man and was always ready to help someone," she told The News-Enterprise of Elizabethtown. "He would go out of his way to help someone."

Phillips was assigned to Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery, based in Carlisle. He joined the Kentucky Army National Guard last year and deployed with his unit last month.

Phillips is survived by his wife, Ashley; his mother and stepfather, Rachel D. and Donnie Crutcher; and his father, Ronald E. Phillips.

Kentucky's adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Donald C. Storm, said Phillips was riding in a military vehicle headed to a traffic control point when a civilian vehicle swerved into its path. The military vehicle took "evasive action," struck a culvert and overturned, he said.

Funeral arrangements for Phillips are pending.

Phillips was the 16th Kentucky guardsman killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.

He was the third Kentucky guardsman to die in about two weeks.

Staff Sgt. Nicholas Carnes died Aug. 26 during a firefight in Afghanistan, and Staff Sgt. Delmar White died Sept. 1 in Iraq when a roadside bomb exploded.

Published in Lexington Herald-Leader on Sept. 12, 2007