Four Servicemembers Killed; DoD Identifies 10 Previous Casualties
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 9, 2007 Four U.S. servicemembers died and five others were wounded yesterday during operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, military officials said, and the Defense Department has identified 10 previous casualties.
Taliban fighters engaged Afghan National Army soldiers and U.S. advisors with small-arms, mortar and rocket-propelled-grenade fire yesterday northeast of the Sangin district center in Afghanistan’s Helmand province.
Combined forces fired back and pursued the retreating Taliban fighters. During the pursuit, the friendly force continued to receive enemy fire from the Helmand River’s western side.
Afghan soldiers and coalition forces maintained contact with the enemy as Taliban fighters took cover in compounds or continued firing on combined forces. Coalition close-support aircraft destroyed three enemy command-and-control compounds, including an enemy underground tunnel network along the upper Sangin River Valley.
During the 16-hour battle, Afghan soldiers and coalition forces fought through three separate enemy ambush sites while dozens of Taliban fighters from Kajaki and Lashkar Gha reinforced enemy positions. During the engagement, more than 200 Taliban fighters engaged combined forces.
Intelligence also indicates foreign fighters and Taliban fighters from Herat participated in the battle.
One coalition member was killed in action during the long battle. There were no reported injuries to any Afghan civilians.
“We will continue to pursue and interdict Taliban fighters who threaten the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,” said Maj. Chris Belcher, a Combined Joint Task Force 82 spokesperson. “Taliban fighters have two choices: stop fighting and reconcile with the IROA, or face elimination by ANA and coalition forces.”
In Diyala province, Afghanistan yesterday, a Task Force Lightning soldier was killed by gunfire. Four other soldiers were wounded in the incident and were taken to a coalition forces’ medical treatment facility.
In Iraq, two soldiers were killed and one was wounded southeast of Baghdad yesterday when their vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb.
The servicemembers’ names are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
Meanwhile, the Defense Department released the identities of eight Army soldiers and two Marines killed recently supporting U.S. operations abroad.
-- Army Col. James W. Harrison Jr., 47, of Missouri, and Army Master Sgt. Wilberto Sabalu Jr., 36, of Chicago, died May 6 during combat in Pol-E-Charki, Afghanistan. Harrison was assigned to the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Sabalu was assigned to the U.S. Military Police School, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. Their deaths are under investigation.
-- Army Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Kiernan, 37, of Virginia Beach, Va., died May 6 in Baghdad during combat patrol operations. Kiernan was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.
-- Army Staff Sgt. Christopher N. Hamlin, 24, of London, Ky.; and Army Pfc. Larry I. Guyton, 22, of Brenham, Texas, died after an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle May 4 in Baghdad. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.
-- Army Sgt. Sameer A.M. Rateb, 22, of Absecon, N.J., died May 6 at Forward Operating Base Summerall in Bayji, Iraq, in a non-combat related incident. Rateb was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C. His death is under investigation.
-- Army Spc. Robert J. Dixon, 27, of Minneapolis, died May 6 in Baghdad when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Dixon was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.
-- Army Pfc. Jerome J. Potter, 24, of Tacoma, Wash., died May 3 in Baghdad when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Potter was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.
-- Marine MSgt. Kenneth N. Mack, 42, of Fort Worth, Texas; and Marine Cpl. Charles O. Palmer II, 36, of Manteca, Calif., died May 5 during combat in Iraq’s Anbar province. Mack was assigned to the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, 2nd MEF, Camp Lejeune, N.C. Palmer was assigned to 8th Communication Battalion, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, 2nd MEF, Camp Lejeune.
(Compiled from Multinational Corps Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force 82 and Defense Department news releases.)