This morning, the Pentagon announced the death of a Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier who was killed while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
Staff Sgt. Kenneth W. Bennett, 26, of Glendora, Calif., died Nov. 10, 2012, in Sperwan Gar, Afghanistan, from injuries sustained when he encountered an improvised explosive device during combat operations.
Unit records indicate Staff Sgt. Bennett entered in the Army in November 2004, and attended Initial Army Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; Advanced Individual Training (AIT) was at both Redstone Arsenal, Al. and Eglin Air Force Base, Fl.
His AIT training was for that of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Specialist.
Staff Sgt. Bennett arrived at JBLM in February 2009, was assigned to the 53rd Ordnance Company (EOD), 3rd Ordnance Battalion (EOD).
It was a very humbling experience, to go from being a very able-bodied man, leading an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team on numerous combat deployments, to simply not being able to carry myself up a sidewalk.
He’s still an active duty Marine, living in California.
The Mining Journal
MARQUETTE – Mark Zambon climbed Mount Kilimanjaro last month, but not just for himself.
Marquette native Zambon, who lost his lower legs to an improvised explosive device while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan in 2011, trained hard for the trip to Tanzania, which he made with Tim Medvetz and Medvetz’s organization, The Heroes Project.
But the accomplishment was about much more than climbing a mountain.
“The journey of making it to Africa was for me and my recovery,” Zambon, 27, said in an email. “The summit of Kilimanjaro was for my two friends SSgt. Josh Cullins (killed in action in October 2010 in Operation Enduring Freedom) and Sgt. Mike Tayaotao (killed in action in August 2007 in Operation Iraqi Freedom) whose dog tags I climbed with around my neck and buried atop Mount Kilimanjaro with my own EOD (explosive ordnance detail) digging knife that had dug on numerous IEDs.
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Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Taylor Morris, right, sits with a fellow service member in Afghanistan during a lull in a firefight.
But the 23-year-old’s inner strength and determination remain undented
Des Moines Register
The bomb blast in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, earlier this month took so much from Taylor Morris, a former soccer player and top-notch wrestler at Cedar Falls High School.
Morris, 23, lost his right leg at the knee, his left leg at mid-thigh, his right arm at the wrist and his left arm at the elbow.
But somehow, the explosion did little damage to his major organs. And it didn’t dent his determination to recover and move on with his life. His parents are grateful for both those blessings.
“We are blessed in that his organs and core received only scratches … and we are thankful for that,” said Juli Morris, Taylor’s mother.
A BRITISH soldier has tragically died in Britain after being fatally wounded by a Taliban bomb a week ago.
The Sun April 19, 2012
The brave soldier of Britain’s elite bombing hunting unit – 33 Engineer Regiment – was critically hurt last Wednesday.
He received emergency medical care on the battlefield and was then rushed back to the Forces wing at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
But today, his wounds from the deadly blast proved too serious and he died.
A total of 409 members of UK forces have died since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001.
Spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Major Ian Lawrence, said: “It is with a deep sense of regret that I must confirm the death of a soldier from 33 Engineer Regiment (EOD) who died of wounds sustained in an IED (improvised explosive device) strike on 11 April 2012.
“The thoughts and sincere condolences of the entire Task Force are with his family and friends.”
Fairbanks civilian contractor who survived blast in Afghanistan honored
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Kendall P. Cox, left, presents the Defense of Freedom Medal to John Keys, 52, of Fairbanks, who was injured when a bomb exploded while Keys was conducting a road survey near Paktika Province, Afghnistan, injuring Keys and killing U.S. service members Navy Chief Petty Officer Raymond J. Border, 31, of West Lafayette, Ohio, and Army Staff Sgt. Jorge M. Oliveria, 33, of Newark, N.J. The medal also was presented to Jacob West, 30, of Fayetteville, N.C., who was injured with Keys. / Photo by Mark Rankin, AED North Public Affairs Office
FAIRBANKS — A Fairbanks engineer saw first hand last fall how Afghanistan is a dangerous assignment whether for a soldier or a civilian. While working on a new road in an Afghan village John J. Keys was hit by an 80-pound roadside bomb. Keys, another Army civilian and a translator survived, but two military men they had been working with for months were killed instantly.
Perhaps thankless is the best word for the engineering assignment. Keys found out later that the villagers for whom they were building the road likely saw the bomb-layers digging for several days to install the bomb.
Yet no one bothered to warn them.
Keys, 52, is no stranger to war zones. In his recent career he was been a a civil engineer at Fort Wainwright, where he helped design some the post’s barracks. But before coming to Fairbanks in 1994 he served in the Air National Guard during Operation Desert Storm and later on drug interdiction assignments in Central and South America.
As a civilian engineer, Keys said he has good protection from the military with a close aerial presence and an escort of soldiers. But he never forgot he was in a war. “You’re always careful,” he said. “You’re looking for signs of (improved explosive devices), hand trails where they bury the wires … You’re always aware that anything could happen at any time.”
On Oct. 19, Keys was inspecting a two-lane gravel road through the village of Yahya Khel in Eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistan border. He was on (and now directs) a provisional reconstruction team, a combined military and civilian crew that was going to convert a gravel road to cobblestones at the request of the village. As a member of the team, Keys wore full combat gear minus the weapons and was traveling with a convoy of heavy mine-resistant vehicles. Instead of an assault rifle he carried a camera to document the road conditions.
A photograph he took a few minutes before the blast shows a relatively innocuous scene: a dusty road flanked by earthen walls. A group of men in white robes sit and stand in a doorway talking to soldiers.
The blast went off about 100 meters from where the photograph was taken. The explosion killed Navy Chief Petty Officer Raymond J. Border, 31, of West Lafayette, Ohio, and Army Staff Sgt. Jorge M. Oliveira, 33, of Newark, N.J. Keys was blown of his feet and knocked 20 feet into a gully, according to an account of the explosion recorded in a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers news release.
“I don’t know how to describe it,” Keys said. “I was in full-body pain and I wasn’t where I started.”
The other Army civilian, Jacob A. West, 30, of Fayetteville, N.C., remembered only a smell of burning dirt, chemical and plastic from the moments after the blast, according to the Army news release. His first clear memory was sitting in the armored vehicle where he saw Keys return to the site of the blast to look for the two military men.
“He (Keys) did all that without being asked,” West said according to the release. “He did all that on his own without any regard for his personal safety. He was part of that team. I think that was significant. People should know that.”
This week, Keys and West were both presented the Defense of Freedom Metal, the equivalent of the military Purple Heart for Department of Defense civilians
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Update from Rick Crawford
On Tuesday of this week, Staff Sergeant Joseph D’Augustine was killed in Afghanistan by an IED. He was 29 years old.
Staff Sergeant D’Augustine was an EOD tech in the United States Marine Corps, and he had four tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq to his credit. He enlisted in the Marine Corps the day after he graduated from Waldwick High School in New Jersey in 2001. As an EOD tech, Staff Sergeant D’Augustine displayed the full extent of his bravery by clearing explosive threats in defending the lives of his fellow marines, soldiers, airmen, and sailors.
EOD techs, like Staff Sergeant D’Augustine, play an invaluable role in securing our freedom and in combating terrorism, but too often their heroic deeds go unreported
North Jersey.com March 28, 2012
Sgt. Joseph D’Augustine of the U.S. Marine Corps was killed in Afghanistan this week. He was 29.
Twenty four hours after four Marines showed up at his parent’s home on Campbell Street in Waldwick with news of his death, the family had gathered and members were rifling through boxes of photos of the 2001 Waldwick High School graduate to find one in which he was flashing just the right smile.
D’Augustine is survived by his parents, Anthony and Patricia, and sisters, Nicole, Jennifer and Michele and her husband, Len Kulesa of Mahwah. He also had two nephews and one niece.
As of 3:30 p.m. March 28, the Department of Defense had not released information surrounding D’Augustine’s death.
Joseph D’Augustine left for boot camp the day after his graduation from Waldwick High School in 2001, his sisters said. This was his fourth tour; previous deployments had taken him to Iraq and Fallujah, Afghanistan.
“We loved him. He was a great brother, great uncle and great son,” said Michele Kulesa. “My parents were really proud of him. His nephews looked up to him and couldn’t wait for him to come home. He was a happy guy. God just took him too soon.”
The family said they planned to leave in several hours for Delaware on March 28 to await the arrival of D’Augustine’s remains.
D’Augustine was a member of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit and belonged to Waldwick VFW Post 1049 and American Legion Nightengale Post 57, according to VFW commander Michael Echevarria.
“Not only did he want to be a Marine, but he wanted to be wherever the action was,” Echevarria said in an interview March 28. “That’s true of him with everything. In high school he was a hell of a linebacker and he was a great wrestler.”
Echevarria described D’Augustine as someone who “wasn’t happy unless everyone around him was laughing.”
Birmingham Mail March 20, 2012
A BRAVE Birmingham soldier died a hero as he tried to defused his SIXTH Taliban bomb in two days, an inquest has heard.
Staff Sergeant Brett Linley, 29, was killed instantly by blast injuries while trying to deactivate an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in Afghanistan, a week before he was due to return home on leave.
The Royal Logistic Corps soldier, from Bournville, was later posthumously awarded the George Medal for his actions, which saved the lives of many colleagues.
Yesterday, a Birmingham inquest heard Staff Sgt Linley had defused 22 bombs in three months while in Afghanistan.
He made two IEDs safe the day before his death and deactivated another three the following morning – before he set out on his fatal sixth operation.
The soldier was working with his team from the 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment to secure a crucial route from Lashkar Gar to Gereshk, in Helmand Province, when he was killed on July 17, 2010.
Insurgents were active in the area and had filled the route with hidden IEDs.
Major Charlie Crowe told the inquest: “Brett was the expert on IEDs and had cleared an enormous number of them. Each IED he had pulled out of the ground saved one life. He was better than anyone else.”
Staff Sgt Linley was working alongside American forces when a mechanical digger used to pull IEDs out of the ground malfunctioned
After a discussion, the bomb disposal expert, who was in full armour, went to defuse the IED alone, while colleagues withdrew to a safe distance.
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By Kirk Mitchell The Denver Post January 7, 2012
A 24-year-old airman who had been stationed at Peterson Air Force Base was one of three service men killed Thursday after an improvised explosive device blew up, authorities said.
Airman 1st Class Matthew R. Seidler, who is from Westminster, Md., was serving in southern Afghanistan when he was killed, according to a Peterson Air Force Base news release.
Seidler, an explosive ordnance disposal technician with the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron, was deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
He and the other two men were part of a road clearance team in the Helmand province when their vehicle was struck by the road-side bomb, according to a Department of Defense news release.
Also killed by the bomb were Senior Airman Bryan R. Bell, 23, of Erie, Pa. He was assigned to the 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron, Barksdale Air Force Base, La. Tech. Sgt. Matthew S. Schwartz, 34, of Traverse City, Mich., assigned to the 90th Civil Engineer Squadron, F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo.
“This is a tragic day for Team Pete, the 21st Space Wing, the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron and especially for Matt’s family,” said Col. Chris Crawford, 21st SW commander. “We will come together to help Matt’s family and friends through their grief.”
Lt. Col. Mark Donnithorne, 21st CES commander, said Seidler’s fellow soldiers will never forget his sacrifice and dedication to his “critical, yet dangerous, mission.”
Seidler, 24, entered active duty in November 2009.
A memorial service will be announced at a later date.
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BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, LA (KSLA) – January 6, 2012
A Barksdale Air Force Base Airman was killed on Thursday while serving in Afghanistan.
23-year-old Bryan Bell died after he was hit by an I-E-D.
Bryan was a member of an elite ‘Explosive Ordinance Division’ (Bomb Squad) based at Barksdale.
His parents say Bryan was originally from Erie, Pennsylvania. He joined the Air Force in April of 2007 and got his bomb disposal training at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida before being assigned to Barksdale.
He married his wife, Alaina in August of 2008 and would have turned 24 next month. Bell also attended Louisiana Tech.
Bryan’s remains are expected to arrive at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware about 11:30 EST.
Family friend, Jim Hawryliw told KTAL’s sister station JET24/FOX66 that Bell was a volunteer firefighter who joined the Air Force in 2007.
Both Bryan and Alaina are from Pennsylvania, Friedley said, and they lived in base housing on Barksdale AFB.
Bell was a member of the 2nd Civil Engineering Squadron based at Barksdale, was an EOD (explosive ordinance disposal) Specialist.
WAVY Sunday, 02 Oct 2011
NORFOLK, Va.(WAVY) – A locally based Navy SEAL was killed Saturday in Zabul province, Afghanistan, according to a press release from the Department of Defense.
Special Warfare Operator 1st Class (SEAL) Caleb Nelson, 26, was killed when the vehicle he was riding in hit an improvised explosive device, according to the Department of Defense.
Nelson, A native of Omaha Nebraska, was assigned to the Naval Special Operations Warfare Unit based out of Norfolk.
“Caleb Nelson was a cherished teammate, a gifted SEAL operator, and a loving husband and father. His tireless professionalism, inspiring passion for life, and his humble and selfless service to our country made him a role model for all who knew him,” said Capt Tim Szymanski, Commander of Naval Special Warfare Group TWO in a released statement.
“We are deeply saddened by this tremendous loss and yet comforted knowing that Caleb died serving beside the people he loved. Our hearts and prayers go out to the Nelson family during this very difficult time, and we will never forget the ultimate sacrifice that Caleb made while protecting our nation and his teammates,” said Capt. Szymanski.
Nelson was a highly decorated soldier and received the Bronze Star for Valor and a Purple Heart.
He is survived by his wife, two sons and his parents.
Stay with WAVY.com and Wavy News 10 on air for the latest on this developing story
Udate Captain Lisa Head identified as EOD killed
British Forces News April 20, 2011
The Ministry of Defence has announced that a British soldier has been killed in Afghanistan.
The soldier from 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps died on Tuesday 19th April 2011, after being deployed on an operation to clear Improvised Explosive Devices in the Nahr-e Saraj (South) District of Helmand Province.
Spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Lieutenant Colonel Tim Purbrick, said:
“The soldier was neutralising a complex set of Improvised Explosive Devices which had been sown in an alleyway between two compounds when one of the devices detonated. Immediate first aid was provided and a helicopter Medical Emergency Response Team recovered the casualty to the military hospital in Camp Bastion. Surgeons stabilised the patient sufficiently for a Critical Care Air Support Team to conduct a medical evacuation from Camp Bastion to the Queen Elizabeth NHS Hospital in Birmingham where, tragically, the individual died.”
The soldier’s family has been informed.
Henry K Lee SF Gate March 11, 2011
Staff Sgt. Eric Trueblood of Alameda downplayed the dangers of being an Army explosives technician, telling his parents that had received the best training in the world after graduating at the top of his class at a military bomb-disposal school.
Trueblood, 27, died Thursday in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, after enemy forces set off an improvised explosive device, the Defense Department said.
He is fourth U.S. explosive ordnance disposal technician to die in a week and the second from the Bay Area. Last Saturday, Army Staff Sgt. Mark Wells, 31, of San Jose was killed when he stepped on a hidden bomb.
Preliminary reports indicated that Trueblood, who enlisted in the Army eight years ago, and other soldiers were walking toward a device that had exploded when a second hidden bomb went off, killing him, said his mother, Linda Trueblood of Mountain View.
Trueblood didn’t want his family to worry, said his father, Don Trueblood of Walnut Creek. Their concerns were alleviated somewhat by the fact that he had graduated at the top of his class three years ago from the Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal School at Eglin Air Force Base.