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Marist grad killed in Iraq.

Byline: Jim Feehan The Register-Guard

Marist High School graduate Chase Whitham was one of two Stryker Brigade soldiers killed in Iraq over the weekend, his mother, Laurie Whitham, confirmed Sunday.

The Pentagon so far has provided few details about her son's death, Laurie Whitham said. She declined further comment.

The two soldiers were part of an Army unit based in Fort Lewis, Wash., and stationed in the city of Mosul in northern Iraq. One died in an "electrical accident" and the other was killed in a mortar attack on a coalition base in the city, the U.S. Command said.

It was unclear Sunday which incident involved Whitham. The name and hometown of the other soldier killed has not been released.

Whitham is at least the 13th Oregon soldier killed in the Iraq war, including four who were members of the Stryker Brigade, according to The Associated Press. The brigade, part of the 2nd Infantry Division, is named for its signature medium-weight combat vehicles.

The deaths bring to 765 the number of U.S. service members who have died since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

Chase Whitham played varsity basketball at Marist. He graduated in 2000. A younger brother, Kyle, graduated from Marist last year. The boys' parents, Laurie and Mark Whitham, used to live on a berry farm five miles south of Harrisburg but have since moved to Salem.

Chase Whitham's name came up at a recent gathering where Marist coaches reminisced about former Spartan athletes, said Corey Anderson, head basketball coach.

"He was a great kid, always had a quick wit," Anderson said. Whitham was the only junior on a varsity basketball squad that featured 11 seniors, Anderson said.

"He fit in really well. He was mischievous in a fun way. He had good leadership skills. He was one of those people who was easy to be around."

Whitham also competed on Marist's golf team.

In the "Senior Ads" portion of Whitham's senior yearbook, photos of the graduates as young children are accompanied with messages from their parents.

Under Whitham's entry, a grinning, towheaded tyke holds up his catch of the day from a recent fishing trip.

His parents write:

"Chase, You are `a keeper!' But since God has parents in the `catch and release' program, we gotta let you go! Our love and prayers go with you."

Other entries include photos of Whitham clad in his boxer shorts acting as class clown during a talent show, and another winning a pie-eating competition during homecoming.

CAPTION(S):

Marist High School Chase Whitham, shown in a school photo, graduated in 2000. This is Chase in his senior yearbook photo from Marist High School. The yearbooks name is The Shield. "He was a great kid, always had a quick wit." - COREY ANDERSON, MARIST BASKETBALL COACH
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Title Annotation:General News; The Pentagon has not made clear exactly how the soldier died, says the mother of the former basketball player
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:May 10, 2004
Words:470
Previous Article:PATTERNS MADE PERFECT.
Next Article:LETTERS IN THE EDITOR'S MAILBAG.


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