(DOVER, Del.) — They have become the face of the government shutdown’s effect on America’s fallen — four Army soldiers killed in Afghanistan this past weekend whose families were not provided with a $100,000 death gratuity.
The four were part of a special operations raid to capture a “high-value target,” and their deaths showed how deadly Afghanistan can still be to American troops.
The attempt to capture the unidentified target at a compound in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar also resulted in injuries to 13 other American soldiers and an Afghan interpreter, authorities said.
The American casualties were caused by multiple explosions triggered by as many as 11 improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, located in the compound, authorities said.
Killed in this weekend’s attack were Army Sgt. Patrick Hawkins, Pfc. Cody Patterson, 1st Lt. Jennifer Moreno and Joseph Peters, a special agent assigned to the Army’s criminal investigative division, officials said.
Hawkins and Patterson were both members of the elite 75th Ranger Regiment, a special operations unit, and Moreno was a nurse who had volunteered for assignment to the special operations unit as a cultural support team member, officials said. The four have been posthumously awarded the Bronze Star.
Their remains returned to Dover Air Force Base on Wednesday and were met by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Army Secretary John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno.
According to a defense official, the Ranger unit’s mission on Saturday was to capture a high-value target at his home.
A group of soldiers encircling the home made a “call out” for the individuals inside to come out, the official said. At that point a man and a woman emerged from the front doorway of the home. Very quickly the woman detonated a suicide vest she was wearing that resulted in several casualties to the troops nearby, the official said, noting the man’s body was lifted into the air by the force of the blast. He also died as a result of the blast.
As other members of the unit came to assist their squad-mates they themselves were injured by 11 other IEDs that had been set up around the house, the official said.
After the blasts, the Rangers radioed that they had been rendered “combat ineffective” by the IED blasts, the official said, noting it was virtually unheard of for any Army unit to report that it is “combat ineffective,” much less a unit of elite Rangers.
That extreme scenario was indicative of just how powerful and deadly the ring of IEDs had been.
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