Soldiers swept away in Afghanistan flood identified
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — The two soldiers who died last week when swept away in a flooded river near Jalalabad were members of the 75th Ranger Regiment, the Pentagon said Monday.
Pfc. Damian J. Garza and Pvt. John M. Henderson Jr. were both members of 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, based out of Fort Benning, Ga., officials said. They were killed Aug. 4 when the vehicle in which they were riding drove off a road and went into the flood-swollen Kunar River.
According to U.S. military officials in Afghanistan, two other soldiers escaped the vehicle before it fell into the water. The Humvee was one of several in a convoy transporting troops to combat operations against insurgents in the area. The river was overflowing due to melting snow in nearby mountains coupled with recent rainfall.
Garza, 19, was a native of Odessa, Texas. Henderson, 21, was from Columbus, Ga.
The two Rangers’ deaths are in addition to a separate incident in which a Marine from Hawaii was killed after falling from a vehicle into the Pech River on June 25.
In that incident, Lance Cpl. Kevin B. Joyce, a 19-year-old from Ganado, Ariz., was missing for nine days before his body was recovered on July 4, officials said. Joyce was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines.
The Humvee he was in caused part of a road to collapse, plunging Joyce and at least one other Marine into the flood-swollen river. The second Marine was able to climb out of the water, but Joyce was swept away, a Marine Corps report said. Currents were running about 25 miles per hour and the water temperature was less than 50 degrees at the time of the incident.
There are around 17,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan now, with that number expected to rise as the mid-September elections near.