NATIONAL GUARD Homemade bomb kills Ohio soldier serving in Iraq



He was concerned about his family while away, his sister says.
COLUMBUS (AP) -- An Ohio soldier was killed in Iraq when a homemade bomb went off near the humvee he was riding in, his sister said Saturday.
Lt. Charles L. Wilkins III, of Columbus, died Friday, Lorin Wilkins said. He served with the 216th Engineering Battalion of the Ohio National Guard, based in Chillicothe.
Army officials told the family Friday night that the explosion killed another soldier and wounded two others, Lorin Wilkins said.
"They said he was returning from an assignment," she said. The family was unsure of where the explosion happened.
Charles Wilkins, 38, deployed in February, and was looking forward to helping rebuild Iraq, his sister said. The family last heard from him in July.
"He said he was going to be on special assignment and said he wouldn't be in touch with us for a little while," she said.
Cared about family
Charles Wilkins enlisted in the Air Force right after graduating from Bishop Hartley High School in Columbus. He also attended St. Charles Preparatory School in Bexley for three years, and played football at both schools.
Charles Wilkins joined the National Guard after getting out of the Air Force because he wanted to be an officer, said Lorin Wilkins, of Columbus.
Even with his hectic schedule -- Charles Wilkins worked as a transportation planner, and attended law school at Capital University in addition to his military obligations -- he always had time to take care of his family.
"He made sure everybody was taken care of. Even with his busy schedule, if you called him and need something, he'd be there," Lorin Wilkins said.
"But even when he was gone, he made sure the family was taken care of and provided for. He sent money back home. If he couldn't be here he made sure things were taken care of and we had money to take care of things if he couldn't take care of them himself," she said.
Priorities
Charles Wilkins had to quit law school a few times, his sister said.
"The military came first and he'd have to quit school or whatever. He'd take it with a grain of salt and start over and do his year over," she said.
Charles Wilkins got his order to ship out a week before he left, so Lorin Wilkins only talked to him on the phone before he deployed.
"He told me to take care of his house and his cat. I told him to be safe and to come back soon," she said, her voice choking.
Ohio National Guard spokesman James Sims confirmed Wilkins' death Sunday, and said another soldier from the 216th was also killed in the explosion. He did not identify the soldier.
Wilkins is among more than 30 Ohio soldiers and Marines killed in Iraq since the war started. He is survived by his parents, a grandmother, two sisters, a niece and a nephew.
Funeral arrangements were pending. Army officials told the family Wilkins' body would be shipped back in seven to 10 days.

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