Three Missing, One Unidentified Body

As reports emerged Wednesday from Iraqi ranks that a body found in the Euphrates River was believed to be one of three soldiers missing nearly two weeks, U.S. officials were studiously avoiding any confirmation about the identity of the body.

Iraqi police in the central region of Hilla were telling reporters that they had found the corpse, shot in the head and chest, of a Western-looking man in a partial U.S. military uniform. That was in the Euphrates River near the city of Musayyib, roughly 30 miles south of the site where the three men were abducted after an attack on their two-vehicle patrol May 12. They were parked on a road doing surveillance, according to the military, about half a mile from the river.

As of late Wednesday in Iraq, there was no confirmation from the military about whether the body had been identified. The military is careful not to name any soldiers killed until their relatives are notified. Sometimes the process can take days, as spouses and parents, possibly living in different locations, are found by soldiers specially trained in breaking the tragic news face to face. In the meantime, entire bases can shut down soldiers' Internet and phone access to prevent gossip from reaching the home front.

After the soldiers were abducted, officers in their unit told reporters that special teams had been assigned from their home base in Fort Drum, N.Y., to keep the families informed of progress in the huge, 4,000-soldier search under way.

The Army has identified the three missing soldiers as Pfc. Joseph J. Anzack Jr. of Torrance, Calif., Specialist Alex R. Jimenez, of Lawrence, Mass., and Private Byron W. Fouty, of Waterford, Mich.