Irish Iraq Veteran Dies

A THIRTY-six-year-old man from Limerick was found dead in Anchorage, Alaska on Friday, July 11.Edward Byrnes, originally from Granville Park in Limerick City, was found on top of a building about 9:30 a.m. on Friday morning. Anchorage police believe that he fell to his death from the top of a bridge approximately 40 feet overhead.Byrnes, who was a member of the U.S. Army and returned from a tour of duty in Iraq on July 3, was based in Fort Richardson Army headquarters in Anchorage with another 2,045 active soldiers and their families.Anita Shell, spokesperson for the Anchorage Police Department, told the Irish Voice on Tuesday that, "Evidence shows Byrnes stepped over the top of the bridge and grabbed the railing," adding he either fell or jumped. "There were footprints found on the traffic side and the other side of the bridge," said Shell.No foul play is suspected.Although no witnesses have come forward, evidence in the form of the Limerick man's baseball cap was found about 30 yards from his body, suggesting that his cap may have blown off by a truck or vehicle while he was crossing the bridge on his way back to base camp."He may have climbed over the railing thinking he could grab it," said Shell.There was no indication of suicide. "He had an airline ticket to go to New York and he talked about re-enlisting," she said. Byrne was seen last with friends from his unit at a local bar on Thursday, July 10 about 11 p.m. It is believed that he left the bar alone.Byrnes' mother flew to Alaska last weekend and met with members of the Army to retrieve her son's body so she could bring him home to Limerick. Police in Anchorage are still investigating Byrne's death. A call by the Irish Voice to Fort Richardson Army headquarters was not returned.According to the Limerick Leader newspaper, Byrnes is survived by his brother and mother.Irish minister for defense Willie O'Dea described the accident as a "terrible tragedy" and has offered his sympathies to the family.


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