Funeral arrangements are currently being made for Manassas resident Sgt. Maj. Robert D. O’Dell, the fifth area man to die in Iraq.
O’Dell, 38, was a soldier with the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command at Fort Belvoir. A great deal of the work he did was classified, according to INSCOM spokeswoman Deborah Parker, but she described O’Dell as a communications expert in the middle of a long career in the Army.
“I can’t discuss what he was doing over there,” Parker said. “His work was sensitive in nature.”
O’Dell first joined the army in September of 1985. During his time in the Army he was deployed overseas many times, Parker said, and received three Meritorious Service Medals, three Joint Services Commendation Medals and two Army Commendation Medals. In addition, he has been posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Legion of Merit medals.
A message posted by the Riddle family of Dumfries on the Fallen Heroes Memorial Web site at https://www.fallenheroesmemorial.com/ describes O’Dell as an exemplary friend and neighbor.
“Robert was so friendly and kind to me and it was a pleasure to know him,” the message says.
O’Dell held the rank of master sergeant, and was promoted to sergeant major after his death, Parker said. He had only been a part of INSCOM since October.
O’Dell leaves behind his wife, Cynthia, and three children under the age of five.
The Department of Defense identified O’Dell on Christmas Eve as one of 14 soldiers killed when a mess hall full of U.S. troops was bombed last Tuesday in Mosul, Iraq. Other Virginia soldiers killed in the attack were Gar-Field High School graduate Spec. David A. Ruhren, 20, of Stafford County and Spec. Nicholas C. Mason, 20, of King George County. Both were assigned to the 276th Engineer Battalion.
Other local troops killed while serving in Iraq include Marine Sgt. Brian Medina of Dale City, Army Sgt. Jack Bryant Jr., of Dale City, and Army Capt. S.M. Kahn, of Bristow.