Kentucky National Guardsman Missing Ahead of Deployment to Iraq

A Kentucky National Guardsman and his two military-issued weapons were discovered missing from training ahead of his deployment to Iraq.

Pfc. Ryan K. Longnecker, 19, was supposed to be at the military training base Camp Shelby with his unit of about 160 soldiers when he was determined missing Monday, said Lt. Col. Doril Sanders, a base spokesman.

Longnecker's military-issued 9 mm pistol and M4 semiautomatic rifle were also unaccounted for, Sanders said. A search to find him was under way.

Longnecker's unit has been training at Camp Shelby since early June, Sanders said. The troops will be headed to Iraq within the next two weeks.

Sanders would not say if officials think Longnecker is still in the area or headed back to Kentucky. Capt. David Page, a Kentucky National Guard spokesman, said the unit is based in Carlisle, Ky., but he didn't have a hometown for Longnecker.

Page said Longnecker was a college student who moved around frequently and he didn't know where the soldier last lived.

Camp Shelby is a 136,000-acre base near Hattiesburg in south Mississippi. More than 40,000 National Guard troops from across the country have trained there for missions in Iraq and Afghanistan since the facility was federally mobilized in 2004.

A few weapons and other equipment, including night vision goggles, have come up missing from the base before, but this is the first time in recent memory that a soldier allegedly disappeared at the same time weapons were reported missing, officials said.

It is not the first time that a member of a Kentucky National Guard unit that was training at Camp Shelby for duty in Iraq made unwanted headlines.

Several soldiers in the Kentucky Guard's 410th Quartermaster Unit were sanctioned last year amid a scandal over photographs of partially clothed female soldiers allegedly posing with military equipment on the base.