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Utah Soldier, Ex-Recruiter Are Killed in Iraq
A Utah soldier was among three Americans killed in a car bomb explosion Thursday night in western Iraq, and in a separate attack, a former South Salt Lake Army recruiter was killed with two other soldiers from the 13th Artillery Regiment.
Staff Sgt. Nino D. Livaudais, 23, Syracuse, died at a U.S. checkpoint when a car exploded, killing two other soldiers, a pregnant woman and the car's driver. U.S. military officials said it was impossible to know if the woman was a voluntary participant, although Iraqi television on Friday broadcast statements by two Iraqi women who it said took part in the attack.
Also slain were Capt. Russell B. Rippetoe, 27, of Colorado, and Spc. Ryan P. Long, 21, of Delaware. The three soldiers were members of the 3rd Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment, based at Fort Benning, Ga.
Livaudais had attended Clearfield High School before moving to Georgia with his mother. His family could not be reached Friday.
In a separate attack Thursday, Sgt. 1st Class Randall S. Rehn, a former commander of the South Salt Lake Recruiting Station, was killed, although details were not available. He is survived by his wife Raelynn and their 6-month-old daughter.
On Friday, the Pentagon announced the deaths of Rehn, 36, whose hometown was Longmont, Colo., Sgt. Todd J. Robbins, 33, Pentwater, Mich., and Spc. Donald S. Oaks Jr., 20, Erie, Pa.
The three soldiers had deployed from Fort Sill, Okla., and were members of Battery C, 3rd Battalion. Officials at the Pentagon would not release any other information, other than to say all three men were "killed in action."
"This has hit our folks hard here," said Maj. Christopher Beveridge of the Salt Lake Recruiting Battalion. "We feared it would be a matter of time before someone who had enlisted or one of our own would meet their fate over there."
Rehn, a 14-year Army veteran, worked at the recruiting station at 2721 S. State St. from September 1999 to June of 2002. He frequently worked with students at Granite High School.
A shaken 1st Sgt. Michael Lynch said Rehn had left Utah before his tour was completed to allow his pregnant wife to settle in Oklahoma before giving birth.
"He was an outstanding soldier, always doing more than the Army ever wanted or required," said Lynch. "I've gotten calls and e-mails from all over the country from people very, very sorry to hear of his death. I would have loved it if he would have stayed here in Utah. He will be greatly missed."
First Sgt. Brad Wilkinson, a recruiter for the Utah National Guard, said Rehn "was a good soldier who loved his country, his job and working with young people. He related well with kids because he could speak their language. He was the type of soldier who would put his life on the line for his country."
On March 29, Marine Reservist James W. Cawley, 41, became the first Utahn killed in the war with Iraq when he was accidentally struck by a Humvee. The soldiers who died on Thursday are among 67 U.S. troops and 27 British soldiers killed in Iraq. Sixteen other Americans have been reported missing and seven taken prisoner.
The 1991 Gulf War ended with 614 American combat casualties -- 147 killed in action, 467 wounded.