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Arlington Sailor Dies in Iraq

A sailor with ties to Arlington, remembered fondly for his community service work, was buried Dec. 30 in Gulfport, Miss., where his unit is based.

Joel Egan Baldwin, 37, was killed Dec. 21 in a suicide bombing outside Mosul, Iraq. He was the 14th member of the armed forces identified in the aftermath of the blast, and the fourth from Virginia.

HIS DEATH was announced in a Dec. 27 statement from the Defense Department. Baldwin was assigned to the Navy’s Mobile Construction Battalion 77. Known as the Seabees, his unit is tasked with overseeing engineering work in Iraq. A special monument is dedicated to the Seabees at Arlington National Cemetery. The Defense Department reports 22 people died in the attack and 69 sustained serious wounds. In a press conference Dec. 22, Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said the explosion appears to be the work of a suicide bomber carrying an improvised explosive device.

According to Darrell Smith, a spokesman for the Seabees, Baldwin was known for his extensive work with the public in Gulfport, Miss., where his unit was based. Among his recent civic projects, Baldwin organized the construction crew that built a playground at his 9-year-old daughter, Cali’s, elementary school. His home, according to Navy records, is Arlington.

Born Oct. 16, 1967, in Coco Solo, the Canal Zone in Panama, Baldwin joined the Navy in 1988 and married his high school sweetheart, Claudia Jordan, one year later. After five years at the Navy’s Construction Battalion Center in Mississippi, Baldwin served with a Naval support unit, working at the State Department and at a U.S. Embassy in Mexico City.

Baldwin’s list of naval awards include two Navy Achievement Medals, four Good Conduct Medals, an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, two Overseas Service Ribbons, two National Defense Service Medals, two Navy “E” ribbons, the M16 rifle expert marksman device, and Sea Service deployment ribbons. He will be interred with full military honors in Biloxi National Cemetery, in Mississippi.

He is survived by his wife, Claudia, his daughter Cali, sister Kelly Baldwin Morris, brother Andrew and his parents, Wendy Ruth Kurzdorfer Baldwin and William Baldwin.

Mourners may send donations to a memorial fund established for his family through the Keesler Federal Credit Union.