Two 82nd Airborne Paratroopers Killed In Iraq

Two American soldiers were killed Sunday in northern Iraq, according to the Department of Defense and the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve:

Two U.S. service members were killed and five others were injured conducting combat operations in northern Iraq today, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today. 

The two soldiers were identified as  Sgt. Roshain E. Brooks, 30, of Brooklyn, New York, and Spc. Allen Levi Stigler Jr., 22, of Arlington, Texas.

Both were with the 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, from Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

An artillery round meant to be fired at an Islamic State target in northern Iraq on Sunday exploded prematurely, defense officials said.

Stars and Stripes reported:

The soldiers and five others wounded in the blast were evacuated by helicopter from an undisclosed firebase in Iraq, where American troops are aiding Iraq forces in their continuing battle with ISIS after the militants were ousted from their Mosul stronghold last month, Army Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said Monday. The two artillerymen died after they were evacuated. The other five injured soldiers were expected to survive their wounds, Manning told reporters at the Pentagon.

The artillery crew was targeting an ISIS mortar position when the mishap occurred, Manning said. The unit was firing an M777 howitzer, a towed 155 mm artillery piece, according to another defense official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Despite ISIS’ claims Sunday that it killed the soldiers with rocket fire, Manning said “there is no indication at all that ISIS had anything to do with” the soldiers’ deaths. He said the incident was under investigation.

Sgt. Brooks joined the Army in July 2012 and deployed to Afghanistan from June to November 2014. This was his first deployment to Iraq. He had been awarded the Army Commendation Medal with “C” Device, the Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, the Parachutist Badge and the Air Assault Badge.

Spc. Stigler joined the Army in November 2013. He was assigned to the Second Infantry Division in Camp Casey, Korea from May 2014 to June 2015 following his completion of combat training and advanced individual training. In July 2015, he was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division.  This was his first combat deployment.

Several decorations had been awarded to Spc. Stigler while serving including the Iraq Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, the Parachutist Badge, and the National Defense Service Medal among others.

Spc. Stigler and Sgt. Brooks were posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, and Combat Action Badge.

Stars and Stripes added:

With the deaths Sunday, nine Americans have been killed supporting Operation Inherent Resolve in 2017, including noncombat deaths. Nearly 50 Americans have been wounded in action since the anti-ISIS campaign began in August 2014, according to Pentagon data.

U.S. troops worked alongside Iraqi security forces to train and advise them throughout their brutal nine-month battle to retake Mosul, the final major city that the terrorist group held in Iraq. The city has been largely turned over to Iraqi Federal Police, described as “hold forces,” who are clearing it of any remaining ISIS fighters and explosives, Manning said.

At least three towns in Iraq are still controlled by ISIS: Tal Afar, about 40 miles west of Mosul, Hawija in northern Iraq and al-Qaim, along the Euphrates River at the Syrian border. U.S. troops are helping the Iraqi forces to prepare an offensive on Tal Afar in the near future, Manning said. The United States believes there about 2,000 ISIS militants there.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other top U.S. officials have pledged to continue providing the Iraqis with military assistance including airpower and advisers on the ground until ISIS is entirely defeated in the country.

It seems to be an afterthought in America when we lose American military members. We’ve been at war for a long time, and military families lose loved ones, yet it is difficult to know it from the lack of news when there are casualties.

Sunday as we mourned the loss of three lives during the violence in Charlottesville, these soldiers lost their lives in combat. Families and friends in New York and Texas are mourning. Saying “thank you” somehow seems to fall short.

Freedom is not free.

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