East Tennessee Solider Killed In Ambush

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Lake City (WVLT) -- The Pentagon has not confirmed it officially, but we're told that an East Tennessean is among the five soldiers ambushed in Iraq yesterday.

Family members tell us First Sergeant James D. Connell, Jr. grew up in Lake City, and currently lived in New York.

His brother tells us this father of four had visited his family in Lake City only two weeks ago.

"I came out to lower the flag to half staff since we had a brother soldier killed in Iraq," said Lake City resident Jack Reed.

Reed says he didn't know First Sergeant James D. Connell personally, but he is close with the his parents.

"I'm sure it's very difficult," Reed said, "I understand he was home two weeks ago, and to be brought back this soon, it's really a hardship, I'm sure."

Vietnam, Korea, World War I, World War II. Dozens of names on a memorial in Lake City represent all the town's heroes who died fighting for our country...

"It's for the local people within about a five mile radius of the entire Lake City area," Reed said.

Within the next six months Sgt. Connell's name will be the first on the back of the monument, soon to be labeled "Iraq War".

"We don't know just where it will it be placed yet because this hasn't been planned so far," Reed said.

Connell spent 19 years in the Army and is the first soldier from Lake City to be taken from Iraq.

"That makes it a sad occasion, of course, any of them are sad, but the first seems to be the worst for people," Reed said. "We knew it just had to be a matter of time."

Friends of Connell say they called him "Tiger", one of the nicest, funniest guys around...

"We're so sorry for the families," Reed said. "The community is well behind the troops."

Connell's brother tells us the First Sergeant leaves behind four children, ages 18 and under and that his mother cared for them in Lake City while he served overseas.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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