Hundreds of friends and relatives of six Stryker brigade soldiers killed in the bombing of a dining tent at Mosul, Iraq, gathered today to remember the fallen as heroes.

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FORT LEWIS — Hundreds of friends and relatives of six Stryker brigade soldiers killed in the bombing of a dining tent at Mosul, Iraq, gathered today to remember the fallen as heroes.


“We grieve the loss of six soldiers, six brothers in arms,” Army Maj. Timothy Gauthier said as the memorial service began.


Among those attending were Gov. Gary Locke and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.


Each soldier was to be honored by two tributes – one from a commander, one from a fellow soldier – before a 21-gun salute and the playing of “Taps” at Fort Lewis’ Soldiers Field House.


The six, all members of the Stryker Brigade, died when a suicide bomber, apparently dressed in an Iraqi military uniform, walked into a mess tent in Mosul around noontime on Dec. 21. It was the deadliest attack so far at a U.S. military base in Iraq, claiming 22 lives, including 14 American soldiers and several civilians.


The Fort Lewis-based soldiers were:


– Staff Sgt. Julian S. Melo, 47, a supply specialist from Brooklyn, N.Y.;


– Capt. William W. Jacobsen Jr., 31, an infantry officer and company commander from Charlotte, N.C.


– Sgt. Darren D. VanKomen, 33, a supply specialist from Bluefield, W. Va., who spent his childhood in the Lewiston, Idaho, area.


– Staff Sgt. Robert S. Johnson, 23, a chemical operations specialist from Castro Valley, Calif.


– Spc. Jonathan Castro, 21, a combat engineer from Corona, Calif.


– Pfc. Lionel Ayro, 22, a combat engineer of Jeanerette, La.


The radical Ansar al-Sunnah Army has claimed responsibility.