The top U.S. military commander in South Korea on Wednesday expressed condolences to the family of Yoon Jang-ho, a South Korean army sergeant who Tuesday became the first in his country to die in the war in Afghanistan.

“We mourn the loss of this brave soldier who died while rebuilding Afghanistan so that future generations there might enjoy the peace and liberty which have made Korea a beacon of freedom in Asia,” Gen. B.B. Bell said in a news release.

“On behalf of all USFK servicemembers, I express our deepest sympathies and condolences to his family,” he said in the release. “This tragedy reminds us all of the sacrifices made by all who risk their lives in the name of freedom, and we solemnly honor his memory.”

Col. Franklin Childress, a USFK spokesman, said Bell wanted to express his sympathy because South Koreans have fought alongside U.S. troops through the Korean War, Vietnam and now the war on terror.

Yoon was killed Tuesday along with more than 20 others when a suicide bomber attacked the gates of Bagram Air Base.

“As far as I know he’s the first [South Korean] soldier killed in action outside of Korea since the Vietnam War,” Childress said.

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