Green Beret killed in Afghanistan dreamed of joining Special Forces
KABUL, Afghanistan — The Special Forces soldier who died Sunday in Afghanistan from wounds in a bomb blast was a husband and father of two who had wanted from an early age to become a Green Beret, family and friends said.
Sgt. 1st Class Reymund R. Transfiguracion, 36, had deployed in March to Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, the U.S. counterterrorism mission that targets al-Qaida and the local branch of the Islamic State.
He served as the primary adviser to 100 Afghan commandos in Helmand province’s Sangin district when he was killed by a roadside bomb, which also wounded several Afghans and at least one other American, according to The New York Times.
Transfiguracion dreamed of joining the Green Berets and hung a poster of them on the wall of his room, his brother Reynell told Stars and Stripes. In 2001, he joined the Hawaiian National Guard. He deployed with the guard to Iraq, then joined active-duty service in 2008 and deployed to Afghanistan and the Philippines.
The Army selected Transfiguracion for Special Forces training at Fort Bragg, N.C. There, he often helped others, even in the middle of the intense qualification course, said South Korean army Master Sgt. Minwoo Jeong, who met Transfiguracion while taking the course at Fort Bragg from 2014 to 2015.
The two combat engineers bonded, and Transfiguracion helped Jeong with his English and with coursework. “He has a lot of military knowledge but didn’t ignore anybody,” Jeong said. “Some guy doesn’t get some class, every time he helped them.”
Transfiguracion was born in Sarrat Ilocos Norte, Philippines, on May 20, 1982, the Army said. He worked on his family farm, tilling and planting coffee beans and macadamia nuts, Transfiguracion’s brother said. Life on the farm taught the soldier to live “day by day.”
“We had nothing to begin with and expected the worst at all times,” Reynell said.
Transfiguracion got American citizenship before turning 18, his brother said, and he moved to Hawaii, where he also farmed.
Fellow soldiers and Transfiguracion’s leaders called him a dynamic leader and a trusted professional.
“Like many uniformed servicemembers ... Transfiguracion was not born in the United States,” said Sgt. Maj. Ed Hall of 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne). “To the world, SFC Transfiguracion was a Filipino-American hero, someone who proved himself to be among the best soldiers in the U.S. Army. He volunteered for the most demanding jobs and selflessly gave his life in service to his country and teammates.”
Transfiguracion was posthumously promoted to sergeant first class and awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and the Meritorious Service Medal.
His Bronze Star citation says he led elements of an Afghan battalion on 40 combat operations, including a May 31 mission that freed more than 100 prisoners from a Taliban jail in Helmand. The Purple Heart was his second in a month. He received his first in connection with the wounds he suffered in a rocket-propelled grenade attack on July 17 in Helmand’s Musa Qala district.
Transfiguracion’s death, which brings the total number of American troops killed this year in combat in Afghanistan to five, is being investigated, the Army said.