The Department of Defense announced today the death of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
They died July 23, in Soltan Kheyl, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device. They were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.
1st Lt. Jonam Russell, 25, of Cornville, Ariz.,
Sgt. Stefan M. Smith, 24 of Glennville, Ga., and
Spc. Rob L. Nichols, 24, of Colorado Springs, Colo.
KABUL, Afghanistan — Three American and four Afghan soldiers and an interpreter were killed Tuesday morning in Wardak Province after an insurgent riding a donkey detonated a bomb in one of the most hotly contested districts in the country, officials said.
The attack occurred around 8:30 a.m. as the Americans and Afghans were conducting a joint patrol in a violent stretch of Sayadabad District, close to the main highway leading to Kabul, the capital. At least three more American soldiers were wounded in the bombing, which the Taliban claimed responsibility for. The New York Times
They were on patrol with Afghan soldiers in the village of Soltan Kheyl when a suicide bomber approached with a donkey concealing a bomb, according to local officials. The attacker, who was standing next to the donkey when the bomb detonated, also died, according to the commander of the Afghan army’s 4th Brigade.
Brig. Gen. Abdul Raziq said the troops had noticed the donkey on their way to and from the village, but there was other livestock in the area as well.
“It’s not the first time they’ve used a donkey,” Raziq said. “We have to learn our lesson. We have to be careful.” Stars and Stripes
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Jonam Russell, 25, whose parents Gilbert and Sophia Russell live in Cornville, was killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan on July 23.
Born Jan. 5, 1988, Russell graduated Cum Laude from Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business in May 2011. The Bugle
He was the oldest of six and he had friends across the country. They say he was living his dream-- serving his country. His friends like Dawn Malapanes, are left heartbroken. "It's complete devastation. When this amazing person, he's gone," she said.
Dawn says Cottonwood, his hometown, is devastated by his death.
"He's truly, truly going to be missed. He's truly one of those people that you'll never forget." abc15.com
Lt. Kyle Visconti says he'll never forget his best friend -- his hero.
"Every soldier who will ever be under my command will know about Jonam Russell. I mean, my children will know about their father's friend Jonam and the sacrifice that he made. I'll go to my death bed telling about our phase in college and what he did for our country," says Lt. Visconti. FOX 10 News
Certainly our hearts go out to the family of Sgt. Stefan Smith , who died on Tuesday, at the age of 24 in Afghanistan.
We cannot possibly comprehend the sorrow of his mother, his wife Kristi and their three children. We won’t presume to understand their grieving process or how they have managed these last few days or what they must be thinking or feeling. lagrangenews.com
Longtime friend and LaGrange Coach Scooter Weathers said Smith was one of those special students that come along every once and a while. He takes comfort in knowing Smith died doing what he loved, but is still crushed by the news. "It's almost like I got punched in the stomach. I just kind of sat there and paused and went outside and cried some...you know it's hard."
Smith was a husband and father of three young kids. He will never get the chance to meet his baby daughter.
"He'll be a hero here forever," said Weathers. WRBL
“He always dreamed of being in the Army,” Weathers said. “He came from a military family, and he was living his dream.”
Smith’s wife, Kristi, found out her husband had passed away when two soldiers in uniform came to her home.
“It devastated me to know that my husband and my children’s father wasn’t coming home,” Kristi Smith said. ajc.com
Tomorrow I(Kristi) will be heading to Dover to welcome my husband home. It may not be the 'Coming Home' we had dreamed and talked about but tomorrow, as I stand there with his parents and watch him come off that plane my heart will be filled with pride knowing my husband died a real hero. Facebook
A soldier from Colorado Springs was one of three killed in an Afghanistan attack, the Pentagon confirmed Thursday.
Fort Stewart officials said Nichols, an infantryman, was on his first overseas deployment after joining the Army in 2010. Nichols was a 2007 graduate of Sand Creek High School who went to Pikes Peak Community College and studied at WyoTech in Laramie, before joining the Army. Denver Post
"He was an incredible kid, an incredible smart kid," said Sam Fuson, who was Nichol's supervisor at D&B Precision Products in Colorado Springs. "Just an awesome kid."I Got the News Today is a diary series intended to honor, respect and remind. Diaries about the fallen usually appear two days after their names are officially released, which allows time for the IGTNT team to find and tell their stories. All of the U.S. fatalities can be seen here and here. They all had loved ones, families and friends. The DoD news releases are here.
His friend Greg Smith, who attended diesel mechanics school with Nichols, was remembering the good times Thursday.
He would give you anything," Smith said. "He was always there for you." The Gazette
Click the IGTNT tag to see the series, which was begun in April 2004 and is maintained by Sandy on Signal, Monkeybiz, Noweasels, Blue Jersey Mom, Chacounne, twilight falling, SisTwo, Spam Nunn, True Blue Majority, CalNM, Wide Awake in Kentucky, Maggie Jean, Jax Dem, The Fat Lady Sings, Ekaterina, Joy of Fishes and i dunno.
Please bear in mind that these diaries are read by friends and family of the service members chronicled here. May all of our remembrances be full of compassion rather than politics.
Sandy on Signal assisted with research for this diary.
When I want you in my arms
When I want you and all your charms
Whenever I want you, all I have to do is
Dream, dream, dream, dream
All I Have to Do Is Dream
Felice and Boudleaux Bryant
Performed by The Everly Brothers YouTube