On July 5, Army Spc. Nathan R. Beyers wrote on Facebook that a soldier has only one wish: “To come home safe.”
Two days later, Beyers and Army Spc. Nicholas W. Newby, both of Coeur d’Alene, died of wounds they suffered when insurgents attacked their convoy with an explosive in Baghdad, the U.S. Department of Defense said Saturday. A third soldier from Coeur d’Alene, Staff Sgt. Jason Rzepa, suffered serious injuries in the attack.
The attack on Thursday marked the deadliest day for North Idaho soldiers since combat began in Iraq in 2003 and Afghanistan in 2001.
Beyers, 24, had spent several years in the Coeur d’Alene area, where his wife, Vanessa Beyers, and their infant daughter still live, Idaho National Guard spokesman Col. Tim Marsano said. He previously lived in Littleton, Colo., Marsano said.
Newby, 20, who worked as a machine gunner in the Army National Guard, lived in Coeur d’Alene from the age of 5. He graduated from The Bridge Academy Alternative High School but also attended Lake City High School, according to his profile on MySpace.
Both men reference time spent studying at North Idaho College in their online profiles.
Officials said Rzepa, 30, of Coeur d’Alene, suffered serious leg injuries in the attack. He has been taken to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for treatment.
Rzepa attended Project CDA High School and obtained a marriage license in 2010, according to Spokesman-Review archives.
The soldiers were assigned to the 116th Cavalry Heavy Brigade Combat Team, based in Post Falls.
“Nathan was proud of his job and serving our country,” Vanessa Beyers said in a statement. “He died doing something he loved and was such a brave person. We just had our first child, and Nathan had a chance to visit us when he was home on leave in January. I told him I knew he was going to be a wonderful father. We are going to miss him.”
Newby’s mother and father released a statement, noting their son could play a variety of musical instruments, including guitar, bass guitar, saxophone and drums. According to his MySpace profile, he started a punk rock band called Trip Wire when he was 15.
“We wrote about an album’s worth of songs and played enough shows with the right bands to qualify as rock stars,” he wrote.
His parents described Newby as intellectually curious and an avid reader.
“Nick would do anything for anybody who needed his help,” they said. “He’d stick by his friends and never gave up on anybody. He had a great sense of humor, ever since he was a kid. For instance, once when he saw his pregnant mom drinking orange juice, he said, ‘Mom, you’re getting orange juice all over the baby!’ ”
They also said he enjoyed his truck. “He loved thrashing his truck and then fixing it; we recall digging him out of the snow and we all smiled through it. Nick loved his family, and everybody loved him.”
Newby wrote on MySpace that he enlisted in the Army National Guard before he graduated from the Bridge Academy in December 2008 and spent much of 2009 in basic training in South Carolina.
The 116th Cavalry Heavy Brigade Combat Team is on a yearlong mobilization and deployment to Iraq as part of Operation New Dawn. It has 2,700 soldiers from Idaho, Montana and Oregon. The soldiers are scheduled to return to the U.S. in September.