Posted on: Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Slain soldier just re-enlisted
Advertiser Staff and News Reports
Felicia LaDuke had just returned from a seven-month deployment to Iraq, re-enlisted for three more years and was looking forward to transferring from Schofield Barracks to Fort Bliss, Texas, when she was killed on Friday, a North Dakota paper reported.
“She called home and had just passed her PT (physical training) test and was so happy,” her father, Steve LaDuke, told The Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald yesterday. “She did 14 minutes, 7 seconds on her two-mile run. She was just so happy. …
“She can make it through Iraq with all those lunatics shooting at soldiers and then she comes home and gets murdered by one. An American soldier.”
Spc. Jeffery White, 21, of Houston, is accused of strangling and using a car to run over LaDuke, 22, near Ka’ena Point. LaDuke and White have a 20-month-old son and court papers state they had disputes over custody and child support payments. White made his first appearance in District Court yesterday, and said nothing. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow in District Court. He’s being held in lieu of $100,000 bail.
His wife was in the gallery along with six uniformed Army soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division (Light) at Schofield and some civilians. All declined comment after the hearing, with the soldiers adding that the Army told them not to say anything.
LaDuke’s father told the Herald that she and White broke up when Felicia was pregnant with Elijah, their son. Felicia’s step-sister, Amanda Glass, 18, moved to Hawai’i earlier this year and was caring for Elijah when her sister was killed, Steve LaDuke told the paper. The baby had been staying with relatives in South Dakota while his daughter was deployed, he added.
Felicia LaDuke was an Army specialist assigned to Schofield Barracks. She had recently told her father she was looking forward to a transfer to Fort Bliss, Texas, the paper said. Born in Grand Forks, N.D., she lived in the Angus, Minn., area until she was 4 and graduated from Warroad High School in 2002. That summer she invited an Army recruiter to their home and signed up, Steve LaDuke said.
Felicia LaDuke was a truck driver with the division’s 25th Transportation Company, 524th Combat Support Battalion. In March, she returned from a deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, which her dad said lasted seven months. While in Iraq she drove in convoys between Tikrit and Baghdad, sometimes working as the door gunner.
The family isn’t sure when Felicia’s body will be sent home, but her father said the funeral will be in Warroad Baptist Church, where Felicia LaDuke was baptized.
Advertiser staff writer Mike Gordon and Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald reporter Stephen J. Lee contributed to this report.