Charles V. Komppa

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Seabee killed in Iraq
He's the 14th to die from enemy action

By JOSHUA NORMAN
jdnorman@sunherald.com

Petty Officer 2nd Class Charles V. Komppa, a Seabee reservist with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 18, died Wednesday in Al-Anbar province in Iraq.

Komppa, 35, is the 14th Seabee to die from enemy action in Iraq, said Daryl Smith, public affairs officer for the First Naval Construction Division, which is the highest administrative arm for most Seabees.

As of late last week, the Department of Defense had not released any details of Komppa's death, saying only in a press release that Komppa died "from enemy action while conducting combat operations."

NMCB 18, stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash., had mobilized at Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport prior to deployment to Iraq, said Lt. Cmdr. Kyra Hawn, public affairs officer for Naval Construction Regiment 20, which administers to all NCBC Gulfport battalions.

Hawn said Seabees are typically attached in smaller, specialized units to the First Marine Expeditionary Force when in Iraq, and they are based in Al-Anbar, which is west, northwest of Baghdad and has long been considered one of the most dangerous areas.

Marine Lt. Col. Paul Deckert, who recently returned from a tour in Al-Anbar with the MEF and is currently monitoring Seabee mobilization efforts at Camp Shelby, said military leaders try to keep Seabees out of harm's way, but this is hard because of the way the war has changed.

"The enemy rarely engages head-on there," said Deckert, saying this is because insurgents and terrorists know they cannot win direct confrontation gun fights. "There is no rear area in Iraq."

Hawn said this creates situations very different than what Seabees have been used to in the last few decades of their existence, when they would normally go in after combat troops had cleared an area and fix or build things.

(This was not always so. For instance, a Seabee battalion landed with Marines on Iwo Jima during World War II.)

In addition to their traditional building and repairing duties, Hawn said Seabees also often perform convoy security operations throughout Al-Anbar for military, civilian and government personnel.

Komppa was an electrician, 2nd Class, who had lived in Belgrade, Mont., and was part of detachment 0618 based in Billings, Mont., Smith said.

Tops in Blue on its way - The Air Force's expeditionary entertainment team, Tops in Blue, will perform a free show at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, according to a press release.

The theme of the show is "What's Love?" and will feature the music of Tina Turner, Huey Lewis, Barry White, the Temptations, Trisha Yearwood, Alan Jackson, Celine Dion, Rod Stewart and Kelly Clarkson, according to the release.

Tops in Blue typically performs song and dance numbers during yearlong tours to military bases and public events like the Daytona 500 and world's fairs, according to several Internet resources.

Members of Tops in Blue are all active duty members of the Air Force.

This day in military history - In 1918, the Ottoman Empire (more or less present day Turkey) signed an armistice with Allied forces, ending the First World War in the Middle East.

In 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower formally approved the top secret document, National Security Council Paper No. 162/2, which says the United States' arsenal of nuclear weapons must be maintained and expanded to counter the communist threat.

In 1965, just miles from Da Nang, Vietnam, Marines repel an intense attack by wave after wave of Viet Cong forces, killing 56 guerrillas, according to an article on www.en. wikipedia.org. Among the dead, a sketch of Marine positions was found on the body of a 13-year-old Vietnamese boy who sold drinks to the Marines the day before.
Published in The Sun Herald on Oct. 30, 2006
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