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Soldier from Federal Way dies in Iraq

A soldier from Federal Way was killed in Iraq on Monday and will be posthumously awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his service.

Cpl. Brandon Hocking was killed by an improvised explosive device in As Samawah in southern Iraq. Hocking, 24, joined the Army on Nov. 22, 2005, and was serving in his second deployment, Army spokesman Kevin Larson said. Larson said that Hocking served as a small arms and artillery repairman.

Hocking had lived in Federal Way and attended Sacajawea Middle School in eighth and ninth grades, Federal Way High School and Decatur High School in tenth grade and Decatur in twelfth grade, according to the Federal Way School District. He earned a GED in 2004.

Hocking was assigned to the Army's 87th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, out of Fort Stewart, Ga., according to a Department of Defense press release. Larson said that Hocking's unit deployed in April 2010, and was scheduled to return to the U.S. next month.

Hocking was serving as part of Operation New Dawn, according to the Department of Defense. Official combat operations for American personnel in Iraq ended Sept. 1 when Operation New Dawn succeeded Operation Iraqi Freedom. However, roughly 50,000 troops remain in Iraq to "conduct stability operations, focusing on advising, assisting and training Iraqi Security Forces," according to the Army.

Hocking is not the first soldier from Federal Way to die in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pfc. Erin McLyman, 26, died March 13, 2010, in Balad, Iraq, after a mortar attack. Spc. Dennis Williams died Aug. 25, 2009, in Afghanistan after the vehicle in which he was riding encountered an improvised explosive device. Three other soldiers were also killed, all of whom served out of Fort Lewis: Capt. John Hallett, Capt. Cory Jenkins and Sgt. 1st Class Ronald W. Sawyer.

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