The Army has identified Master Sgt. Luis F. Deleon-Figueroa as one of two soldiers killed Wednesday, during combat operations in Faryab Province, Afghanistan.

The Army has identified Master Sgt. Luis F. Deleon-Figueroa as one of two soldiers killed Wednesday, during combat operations in Faryab Province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army)

The Pentagon has identified the two Green Beret soldiers killed Wednesday during combat operations in Faryab Province, Afghanistan, as Master Sgt. Luis F. Deleon-Figueroa, 31, and Master Sgt. Jose J. Gonzalez, 35.

Both were assigned to 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., the Pentagon said in a statement Thursday.

The two died as a result of wounds sustained from small arms fire, according to a Pentagon statement Friday morning. The statement provided no further details.

“It was an honor having them serve within the ranks of 7th SFG (A). They were a part of our family, and will not be forgotten,” said group commander Col. John W. Sannes in the statement. “Our priority is to now provide the best possible care to the families of our fallen warriors."

Deleon-Figueroa, a native of Chicopee, Mass., had served more than 13 years in the Army, completing the Special Forces Qualification Course in 2014 as a Special Forces communications sergeant, and then as a Special Forces operations and intelligence sergeant, according to the Pentagon’s statement.

He deployed six times during his career, first as an infantryman to Iraq in 2008, and to Afghanistan in 2010. As a Green Beret, he deployed to South America in 2015 and 2018, and to Afghanistan in 2018 and 2019, the statement said.

Deleon-Figueroa’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal with Valor, Army Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters and Army Achievement Medal with three clusters

Gonzalez, a native of La Puente, Calif., was assigned to 7th Special Forces Group in 2014, the statement said. Gonzalez’s family requested that the Army not release further information about him, according to the Pentagon.

Both men were posthumously promoted to the rank of master sergeant.

The deaths bring the number of American troops killed by hostile enemy action in 2019 to 14, the highest number of U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan since former President Barack Obama formally ended combat operations there at the end of 2014. Thirteen American troops were killed by enemy forces in 2018 and 39 were killed in action in 2014, according to Pentagon data.

The incident comes about three weeks after two American soldiers were shot dead by an Afghan soldier in an apparent insider attack at a base in southern Afghanistan’s Kandahar province.

It also comes as peace talks ramp up between U.S. and Taliban officials, who have both recently signaled they are closer to reaching an agreement that would lead to at least a partial withdrawal of American forces from the country.

The hardline Islamist group has demanded a full withdrawal of American forces, while the United States has insisted the group must ensure Afghanistan does not revert to a haven for terrorist groups and that women’s rights are upheld in the country.

The United States has also insisted the Taliban negotiate with the central Afghan government, terms at which Taliban officials have balked, labelling the Afghan leaders as American puppets.

The U.S. war in Afghanistan is now in its 18th year. Some 14,000 American troops are deployed there and charged with two separate but related missions – to train and advise Afghan troops and to conduct counterterrorism operations.

Some 8,500 are training and advising Afghan security forces to stabilize the country and battle the Taliban insurgency, under the U.S.-led NATO mission known as Resolute Support. The rest of the forces serve under the American Freedom’s Sentinel mission, which targets primarily the remnants of al-Qaida and Islamic State fighters.

Since the United States first launched military operations in Afghanistan in October 2001, more than 2,400 troops have been killed and more than 20,000 have been wounded in action, according to Pentagon statistics. Twitter: @WyattWOlson Twitter: @CDicksteinDC

author picture
Wyatt Olson is based in the Honolulu bureau, where he has reported on military and security issues in the Indo-Pacific since 2014. He was Stars and Stripes’ roving Pacific reporter from 2011-2013 while based in Tokyo. He was a freelance writer and journalism teacher in China from 2006-2009.
author picture
Corey Dickstein covers the military in the U.S. southeast. He joined the Stars and Stripes staff in 2015 and covered the Pentagon for more than five years. He previously covered the military for the Savannah Morning News in Georgia. Dickstein holds a journalism degree from Georgia College & State University and has been recognized with several national and regional awards for his reporting and photography. He is based in Atlanta.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now