Blast in Iraq kills local soldier
Sergeant from Commerce victim of IED

A 24-year-old soldier from Commerce died Thursday in Iraq, according to the Army.

Staff Sgt. Shaun J. Whitehead was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated while he was on foot patrol in Iskandariyah, south of Baghdad, the Army said.

The Pentagon confirmed Whitehead's death late Friday night.

Whitehead was a former student at Commerce High School, said school counselor Elaine Roller.

"He was a nice young man. Didn't get into trouble, a nice kid," Roller said.

Whitehead joined the Army in 2003 and arrived at Fort Stewart in 2004, according to Fort Campbell Public Affairs.

He was an infantryman in the 101st Airborne Division assigned to A Co., 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Campbell, Ky.

Whitehead was the sixth Fort Campbell soldier killed in Iraq this week, and the second military man with local ties killed in little more than a week.

Hundreds turned out Tuesday to lay to rest U.S. Marine 1st Sgt. Luke Mercardante, 35, who was killed in Afghanistan on April 15 when a roadside bomb blew up his armored vehicle.

Whitehead's body was expected to be flown into Dover, Del., Saturday night and will arrive at Athens-Ben Epps airport on Tuesday or Wednesday, said Gary Hinson of the Patriot Guard Riders.

Riders will escort the body from Athens to Evans Funeral Home in Jefferson, which is in charge of arrangements, Hinson said.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been made, he said.

Whitehead is survived by his wife, Brenda, and two children, all of Fort Campbell, Ky., and his mother, Rebecca Whitehead, of Maysville, according to Fort Campbell Public Affairs.