Local news

Spokane Valley native assigned to Iraq killed in mortar assault

A Spokane Valley native was killed in Iraq on Christmas Day when his living quarters came under mortar attack, the Department of Defense said Saturday.

Army Staff Sgt. Stephen C. Hattamer, 43, of Gwinn, Mich., was killed Thursday in Baqouba.

Hattamer was assigned to the 652nd Engineer Battalion, U.S. Army Reserve, based out of Ellsworth, Wis.

Killed in the same attack was Army Staff Sgt. Thomas W. Christensen, 42, of Atlantic Mine, Mich.

Their unit was building bridges in Iraq, said Major Willie Harris, public affairs officer for the 88th Regional Readiness Command in Fort Snelling, Minn.

“They were in their living areas” when the attack occured, Harris said. “They were not working.”

Harris said he could not release further details about the incident or Hattamer because of Department of Defense policy.

“As one can imagine, news of the death of a loved one is not easy,” Harris said. “The military does a very good job of making sure we do everything to make sure family members are taken care of.”

Harris said the bodies will be flown back to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, before being sent to their final destinations. He didn’t know Saturday night where that would be.

Gwinn is a small town in rural northern Michigan. A woman who answered the phone listed under Hattamer’s name declined to comment Saturday night.

His cousin, Joyce Anderson, said Hattamer grew up in Spokane Valley and graduated from Central Valley High School. Other family members could not be reached for comment Saturday night.

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