POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, May 26, 2011
Four Schofield Barracks soldiers were killed by a homemade bomb Monday in Afghanistan after their unit was attacked by insurgents in Kunar province, the Pentagon reported.
Killed were Staff Sgt. Kristofferson B. Lorenzo, 33, of Chula Vista, Calif.; Pfc. William S. Blevins, 21, of Sardinia, Ohio; Pvt. Andrew M. Krippner, 20, of Garland, Texas; and Pvt. Thomas C. Allers, 23, of Plainwell, Mich.
Lorenzo was in his third combat deployment. He had been to Afghanistan twice and Iraq once. Blevins, Krippner and Allers were on their first deployment.
They were all infantrymen with the division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment and were assigned to 1st Platoon, A Company.
Lt. Col. Daniel Wilson, commander of the 2nd "Wolfhound" Battalion, reported on the unit's Facebook page Tuesday that Anthony Torres, also of 1st Platoon, A Company, was seriously wounded in the same attack.
"He is currently stable, and doing well, and will be moved from Bagram Air Base here in Afghanistan to Germany very soon," Wilson wrote.
He said a memorial service was held Monday for the four soldiers.
"We gave our heroes a solemn, fitting farewell last night. The entire base turned out to salute our fallen comrades as they were carried to the waiting helicopters for the final trip home, and A Company fired four illumination rounds into the star-spangled night sky to symbolize their spirits above us.
"We will never forget the sacrifice of these gallant young Americans, we will carry them forever in our hearts and we vow to honor their memory by completing our mission here."
In a Facebook tribute page for Lorenzo, a fellow soldier, Wyatt Arndt, posted this message: "So many of the guys looked up to you, always motivated always smiling. You were most definitely the brightest spot in the hellpack. And it will never be the same without you. Thank you for everything, all the help and advice you'd ever given me or the guys and as happy as you've made us. We are all praying for you and your family."
Tammy Austin told the Kalamazoo Gazette on Wednesday that Allers, her neighbor, "was a great kid, very sweet. He was everything to his mom."
Allers, who was named after his father, often went fishing with his parents.
"They just did everything together," Austin said.
The deaths raise the total of Schofield Barracks' 3rd Bronco Brigade soldiers to six since the unit deployed to Afghanistan in April. It is the unit's fourth combat tour.
Spc. Brian D. Riley Jr. of Longwood, Fla., died May 15 in Kunar province. He will be buried today at a cemetery in the town of Dickson, just north of Binghamton, where he grew up.
His survivors include his wife and 5-year-old daughter in Longwood.
On May 2, Cpl. Kevin W. White, 22, of Westfield, N.Y., was killed in Kunar province when insurgents detonated a homemade bomb near his unit.
The Taliban and other insurgent groups control large swaths of Nuristan, Kunar and other northeastern provinces near the Pakistani border. Insurgents have safe havens in Pakistan's neighboring lawless tribal regions and regularly cross the border into Afghanistan to attack NATO troops.
NATO plans to hand over control of seven areas to the Afghan army in July, despite new bombings and assaults by insurgents who have begun their spring offensive. The U.S. plans to begin a gradual drawdown of troops at the same time.
The south — where the majority of international forces are based — has been particularly volatile this spring.
Airborne NATO and Afghan soldiers expelled Taliban fighters Wednesday from a government building they occupied in a remote eastern district and forced them to flee to surrounding mountains, a local official said, the latest fighting in a region bordering Pakistan's lawless tribal area.
The quick strike came in the Nuristan province in the country's east. The NATO-Afghan force pushed Taliban fighters back after they seized control of half of the district, kicking them out of the government building just a few hours after they overran it, Gov. Jamaludin Badar said.
As coalition forces came under fire, they called in airstrikes, killing at least 10 Taliban fighters, NATO said in a statement.
Though NATO declined to comment on the troops used in Wednesday's battle, they likely were U.S. soldiers, as NATO's eastern regional command is made up mostly of American forces. An Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman said 100 commandos flew there with NATO forces and planned to remain on the ground through the fighting.
NATO said the battle was still going on late Wednesday afternoon. Taliban fighters, who used mortars and rocket-propelled grenades to seize control of Duab district, fled into the surrounding mountains and continued to fire down on NATO forces, Badar said.
NATO said a service member died in a bomb attack Wednesday in northern Afghanistan and another died Tuesday in a bomb attack in southern Afghanistan.
There were no details on the nationalities of the two, as NATO typically waits for national authorities to release information on deaths to make sure relatives have been informed. The latest deaths brought to 30 the NATO troop fatalities so far this month and 181 deaths since the start of 2011.