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Soldier dies weeks after being hurt in IED blast; DOD names four other casualties

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — A soldier wounded April 25 when an Afghan partner stepped on a homemade bomb has died, the Defense Department announced Monday.

Spc. Samuel T. Watts, 20, of Wheaton, Ill., died May 19 in Bethesda, Md., of wounds sustained in Zharay district, Afghanistan.

Watts was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

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The incident in which he was badly wounded was recounted in a story by Stars and Stripes reporter Heath Druzin.

According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, Watts joined the Army in July 2010 after high school graduation. He attended airborne school at Fort Benning, Ga., before deploying to Afghanistan.

“Sam was a guy you wanted on your team; he was a fighter,” the Tribune reported Capt. Mike Kelvington, Company B commander with the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, as saying. “From being an expert on the M240 range with his assigned weapon to defying the odds when all the doctors said he shouldn’t have lived this long, he fought all the way to the end.”

The DOD also reported the deaths of four other soldiers late Monday:

Sgt. Michael J. Knapp, 28, of Overland Park, Kan., and Sgt. JaBraun S. Knox, 23, of Fort Wayne, Ind., died Friday in Asadabad, Kunar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with indirect fire. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion (Air Assault), 377th Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Fires Brigade, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

Also a veteran of deployments to Iraq and Kosovo, Knapp was married and the father of a 9-month-old girl.

“Mike was a soldier through and through and you just couldn’t ask for a guy that’s more loyal to our country and to my daughter, and then to my granddaughter,” Knapp’s father-in-law, Tom Brassfield, told Fox 4 in Kansas City.

A three-year Army veteran, Knox also had deployed to Iraq, according to a report in the (Fort Wayne) Journal-Gazette. Knox too was married, and father to an infant son.

In a separate incident, Capt. Jesse A. Ozbat, 28, of Prince George, Va., and 2nd Lt. Tobias C. Alexander, 30, of Lawton, Okla., died Sunday in Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device. They were assigned to the 168th Brigade Support Battalion, 214th Fires Brigade, Fort Sill, Okla.

No local reports on Ozbat were available.

According to Alexander’s Facebook page, he was the father of three. In the “About Tobias” section, he wrote:

“I have been a Soldier for last 9 years of my life. Most people will not see, experience, and be exposed to what I have in last few years. Soldiers make so many sacrifices that most people take for granted. Just remember, if people like me wouldn’t do it, who would?”

dicksonp@estripes.osd.mil
Twitter: @SSMideastchief

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