A Columbia resident died Sunday in Iraq after his camp came under a mortar attack.
Sgt. Melvin Yamil Mora was killed in action in Taji, Iraq, when he was struck by shrapnel from an attack on his camp. The attack occurred at Camp Cooke, located on the Al Taji air base, a former Iraqi air force facility north of Baghdad. Mora was 27.
Mora was assigned to the Army Reserve’s 245th Maintenance Company out of St. Louis. He was originally from Arecibo, Puerto Rico, where his parents still live. He had lived in the United States for the past nine years, most recently in Columbia.
Mora worked at the front desk at University Place apartments, where he lived. Friends and neighbors remembered Mora fondly.
“He was a great guy,” said Jamie Wissehr, who lived down the hall from Mora. “He wanted to be a teacher.”
Wissehr said Mora came to Columbia to attend school. MU’s Web site lists Mora as a senior physics major.
Ben Jackson, a friend and neighbor of Mora’s, remembered his outgoing nature.
“He was a very sociable guy,” Jackson said. “He always remembered peoples’ phone numbers in the building.”
Mora’s parents were notified Sunday evening of their son’s death. Of the U.S. military deaths since the war began in March 2003, at least 17 have been Puerto Ricans or people of Puerto Rican descent.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.