Jackson soldier killed on second tour of duty in Iraq

Published 11:04 pm Saturday, November 24, 2007

JACKSON (AP) — Spc. Melvin Henley was on his second tour of duty in Iraq family members say when he died Wednesday at Camp Striker in Iraq from injuries suffered from a noncombat-related incident.

The U.S. Department of Defense announced Henley’s death on Friday.

The cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the head, Jim Jeffcoat, a spokesman for Fort Stewart in Georgia, where Henley was assigned, told The Clarion-Ledger newspaper.

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‘‘It is under investigation,’’ Jeffcoat said.

Henley, 26, from Jackson, was a helicopter mechanic. He was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart in March 2007.

He served one tour of duty in Iraq from November 2003 to November 2004.

Amber Henley, 23, told the newspaper that her husband was not happy about a second tour.

The Henleys were married less than two years and were assigned to Fort Stewart only three months when Melvin Henley received his orders in June.

‘‘He had tried to talk to his command because we hadn’t had any time,’’ Amber Henley said. ‘‘We had barely gotten settled in. But they told him they couldn’t do anything about it.

‘‘He hated to be away from us,’’ Amber Henley said. ‘‘We were everything to each other.’’

Henley was scheduled to end his tour in October 2008.

Henley’s uncle, George Watkins, said his family in Jackson also knew he was having a hard time.

‘‘We know he was under stress,’’ Watkins said. ‘‘But we don’t know (how he died) at this time, whether it was an accident. We’re trying to be strong. We’re waiting on a report from the military.’’

Despite the stress, a soldier is what Henley wanted to be, his uncle said.

‘‘He wanted to make a difference in other people’s lives, and he had other relatives who had done the same. His grandfather fought in World War II. So, he was following in those footsteps.’’

Henley joined the Army after graduating in 1999 from Provine High School. He was among the top 10 students in his class.

Because he was only 17, his mother signed his enlistment papers.


Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, http://www.clarionledger.com