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Troy Marine killed in Iraq

| December 28, 2004 11:00 PM

A U.S. Marine from Troy was one of three American servicemen killed in fighting in Fallujah, Iraq, on Dec. 23.

The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed on Monday that Cpl. Raleigh Smith died as a result of enemy action along with Lance Cpl. Eric Hillenberg of Marion, Ind., and Lance Cpl. James Phillips of Hillsboro, Fla. All three were 21 years old.

A 2002 graduate of Troy High School, Smith was the son of Raymond and Gail Smith.

Along with the other two Marines killed last week, Smith was assigned to the Third Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment, First Marine Division, based at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

According to an official release from the Defense Department, the Marines were killed while conducting security and stabilization operations in western Iraq¹s Al Anbar province, where Fallujah is located. The Associated Press reported that a U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed that the deaths occurred during fighting in the city. Marine Corps policy precludes the release of any information that could aid enemy personnel in assessing the effectiveness of their tactics, techniques or procedures.

According to news reports, insurgents attacked Marines within Falujah on Thursday, prompting the military to call in air and artillery strikes.

Home to more than 250,000 people, Fallujah was the scene of heavy fighting in November when the Marines launched an offensive aimed at driving out the insurgency that had taken root in the city. Last week¹s fighting occurred as U.S. troops allowed a trickle of displaced residents to return to the devastated city.

More than 1,000 members of the U.S. military have died due to hostile action since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

Smith is the sixth soldier with Montana ties to be killed in Iraq.