Mideast edition, Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Pentagon has identified the two American servicemembers killed by an Afghan soldier as a colonel and a master sergeant who were working to revamp the Afghan prison system.

Col. James W. Harrison, 47, and Master Sgt. Wilberto Sabalu Jr., 36, were shot to death Sunday by an Afghan soldier described by the Afghan Defense Ministry as “mentally ill.”

Harrison was deployed from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Sabalu was assigned to the U.S. Military Police School at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

The incident occurred at the Pol-e-Charki prison near Kabul and is under investigation, officials said Wednesday.

Harrison was remembered by colleagues as a dedicated officer who had recently commanded the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Leavenworth. He leaves behind a wife and three sons.

According to the Leavenworth Times, one of those sons is a high-school baseball player whose teammates rallied around him after the news hit home.

“It’s been really hard around the house, but I was really glad to come out on the field with their help and put it all behind me,” Josh Harrison was quoted as saying. “I’ve had a lot of them come by and visit me. It was really good to come out and play.”

“My dad would have wanted me to play. He loves baseball, our family loves baseball. It just makes me happy. My mom even told me that she wanted me to come out and play.”

Memorial services for Harrison were pending.

Sabalu, whose family moved from New York to Chicago when he was young, was being remembered as “a gung-ho soldier” and veteran of 17 years who “died doing what he loved,” according to friends interviewed by the Chicago Tribune.

Sabalu was married with two children, was a coach for his kids’ soccer teams and enjoyed his family time, Ana Lozano, a family friend speaking on their behalf, told reporters.

“You’re torn as a soldier and a father and a husband,” Lozano said. “He was very good at what he did, so he was proud to be there. But he knew it was a sacrifice to be away from his family.”

A service for Sabalu was scheduled for Friday at Fort Leonard Wood, officials said.

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