Three Americans slain in Bagram blast identified as Marines, one a decorated NYC fireman
All three American servicemembers killed in a bombing outside Bagram Air Field were Marines, including a decorated New York City firefighter serving in the Marine Reserves, officials said Tuesday.
Three other Americans were wounded in the blast Monday, which Afghan officials said was a car bomb targeting a convoy. The deaths bring the number of American troops killed in Afghanistan this year to seven. Last year, 13 U.S. servicemembers were killed in combat there.
A contractor was also reported killed, but the military said Tuesday that the man, an Afghan citizen, survived with injuries.
The military has not released names of the victims, but Navy Secretary Richard Spencer told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the dead were all Marines. Committee members bowed their heads in a moment of silence.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that one of the dead was Christopher A. Slutman, 43, a 15-year member of the New York City Fire Department who was a Marine staff sergeant.
Slutman, who leaves behind a wife and three daughters, was decorated for bravery in 2014 after rescuing an unconscious woman from a burning building in the South Bronx, de Blasio said in a statement.
“Firefighter Slutman bravely wore two uniforms and committed his life to public service both as a New York City Firefighter and as a member of the United States Marine Corps,” said New York Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro. “The hearts and prayers of the entire Department are with his loved ones and with the families of his fellow service members who lost their lives in service to our nation.”
He also served as a volunteer fireman in Prince George’s County, Md., until 2003.
“Chris served the citizens of Landover and Prince George’s County, Maryland valiantly,” said Oleg Pelekhaty, chief of the Kentland Volunteer Fire Department, in a statement. “During his 19-year career he [rose] through the ranks to become a Wagon Driver, Captain, but most of all — he was a fireman.”
“Through this trying time, we will remember Chris for the father, husband, brother, son, and friend that he was, the moral character he displayed daily, and the courage and conviction to serve his fellow Americans, both at home and abroad,” Pelekhaty said.
Five Afghan civilians were wounded in the wake of the attack, local officials told The Associated Press on Tuesday. The Americans soldiers opened fire immediately after the convoy was bombed, said Abdul Shakor Qudosi, the district administrative chief in Bagram, the largest U.S. military base in the country.
Four of the wounded civilians were passers-by and the fifth was driving a car down the road, Abdul Raqib Kohistani, the Bagram district police chief, told the AP.
The Afghans were treated for their injuries, including the contractor who initially was mistaken for a civilian.
The bombing was the deadliest incident for Americans in Afghanistan since November, when a roadside bomb blast in the country’s eastern Ghazni province killed four U.S. troops.
“We feel and mourn the loss of these Americans with their families and loved ones,” said Gen. Scott Miller, commanding general of the Resolute Support mission and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, in a statement. “They volunteered to protect their country. We will continue our mission.”
Bagram is home to thousands of U.S. and allied troops and contractors. U.S. and other coalition troops routinely patrol the area surrounding the airfield in armored vehicles and sometimes on foot.