8 American Soldiers Dead in Gardez Fighting
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 5, 2002 Eight American soldiers have been killed in fighting around Gardez in eastern Afghanistan, U.S. Central Command officials said.
Previous reports said nine soldiers had been killed.
Central Command said one soldier, Chief Warrant Officer Stanley L. Harriman of the 3rd Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, N.C., died during the early hours of Operation Anaconda on March 2.
Seven other soldiers died in two helicopter incidents on March 4. In the first, an MH-47 Chinook helicopter was inserting an observation team when a rocket-propelled grenade hit the aircraft. It did not explode, but the pilot lost control of the craft for a short time. In the maneuvers to get out of the area, a soldier fell from the craft.
"The helicopter repositioned under its own power, and the helicopter landed and immediately recognized that one crew member had been left behind," said Army Gen. Tommy Franks, U.S. Central Command chief, during a March 4 briefing in Tampa, Fla.
Immediately after the first incident, a second force went to insert soldiers into roughly the same area. "When one of the two helicopters of that force first came in it also came under fire," he said. The chopper, also an MH-47, landed, and the soldiers aboard the helicopter got off and engaged the enemy.
The second chopper made a hard landing, Franks said, and was not flyable. The U.S. troops took casualties, including six dead, in the fighting. Later, a combat search and rescue team went into the area and evacuated all the soldiers including the seven dead.
Operation Anaconda is aimed at eliminating a pocket of Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters south of Gardez. More than 2,000 U.S., Afghan and coalition troops are involved. Fighting in the area continues.