Family of Ranger killed by friendly fire ‘completely at peace’
By KEVIN BARLOW AND MARIA NAGLE | The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Ill. | Published: December 1, 2017
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (Tribune News Service) — The father of Army Ranger Josh Rodgers said the family is "completely at peace" with the death of their son that the military has confirmed was the result of friendly fire.
“We are very heartbroken for his Ranger brothers,” said Kevin Rodgers. "There is no animosity on our side. We are completely at peace with what has happened. The guys that he was fighting with are probably hurting a lot more than we are.”
Rodgers was killed during a raid on an Islamic State compound in eastern Afghanistan on April 27.
Tracy Bailey, deputy public affairs officer for the 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Ga., said Friday that Sgt. Rodgers' family has received a copy of the investigation report.
She confirmed the investigation concluded that Rodgers, 22, and Sgt. Cameron Thomas, 23, of Kettering, Ohio, died as a result of friendly fire. Both were killed during a three-hour firefight with ISIS.
Thomas' family also has been notified of the investigation's findings, said Bailey.
The families were told after being notified of the soldiers' deaths that a friendly-fire incident was likely, Rodgers said.
“It wasn’t a surprise,” he said. “Very early on, the military leaders told us that there was a high probability that it was a friendly-fire incident. It was a very thorough investigation and we are thankful for that. We read through the report and appreciate that they were very transparent about the situation.”
The report detailed how his son had "applied his own tourniquet" for bullet wounds he suffered in both legs, said Kevin Rodgers.
"And then Josh was continuing on, and he got fatally shot in the head," said Rodgers. "His initial wounds in the legs, I don't know if anyone was sure those were friendly or not. But his fatal wound was friendly fire, they said."
A copy of the report was not immediately available to the media.
The raid near the Afghan-Pakistan border targeted a compound used by Abdul-Hasid, the emir of ISIS Khorasan, the terrorist group’s Afghan branch. Abdul-Hasid was killed in the attack, along with 34 other enemy fighters. One other Army Ranger suffered a head wound during the battle, but was able to stay with the assault fighters, according to a press release from the Pentagon.
"I think we had closure before (getting the report)," said Rodgers. "We already kind of knew the outcome. We obviously miss him, but he lived and died doing what he loved to do. You can't ask for much more."
It was Rodgers' third deployment to Afghanistan.
After graduating from high school, Rodgers enlisted in the U.S. Army in August 2013, and completed training at Fort Benning, Ga. as an infantryman.
He was awarded the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, and the NATO Medal.
Rodgers is buried in Evergreen Memorial Cemetery in Bloomington.
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