This week has been a tough one for our Special Operations Forces. Yesterday we learned of a pitched firefight with ISIS terrorists in Afghanistan that resulted in two soldiers’ deaths and another being wounded. Then later the news was released of a former actor turned Green Beret sergeant in Ft. Lewis, Washington took his own life.
These incidents both illustrate the tough nature of the job and illustrate that the sacrifices made every day by our forces never stop even when they come back from the fighting that is permeating the Third World today.
On Wednesday, the two U.S. troops that were killed and one wounded were taking part in a raid against ISIS in the same area of Afghanistan that the US dropped the MOAB, officially known as the Massive Ordnance Air Blast but known as the “Mother of All Bombs. They were partnered with Afghan Security Forces and got into a heavy firefight.
What is known at the present is that both men were seriously wounded and evacuated to a hospital but that both men died en route. The other operator was slightly wounded but his injuries weren’t considered life-threatening and he reportedly remained in the battle.
Their enemies were an offshoot of the terrorist organization also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria called Islamic State-Khorasan Province, or “ISIS-K.”
“The fight against ISIS-K is important for the world, but sadly, it is not without sacrifice,” said Army Gen. John W. Nicholson, commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and NATO’s Resolute Support mission.
“On behalf of all U.S. forces and our coalition partners, I offer our deepest sympathies to the families, friends, and fellow service members of our fallen comrades,” added Nicholson.
The soldiers’ identities haven’t been released yet pending notice to the families.
The other news released yesterday was Army Special Forces Sergeant Michael Mantenuto died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at Ft. Lewis, Washington. In another in a tragic case of suicide, Mantenuto became another statistic in an all-too-familiar pattern of depression taking our soldiers.
Mantenuto was widely known from the 2003 film “Miracle” about the 1980 US Olympic hockey team and he portrayed Jack O’Callahan in the film opposite Kurt Russell. He appeared in a couple of other films before enlisting in the Army in 2010.
He went through the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC) in 2013 and graduated as a Special Forces Communication Sergeant. He deployed in the US’ war on terrorism, Operation Inherent Resolve, the fight against ISIS. He was a K-9 dog handler with the 1st SFG(A) as well as a communications sergeant.
He was lauded for starting a Youth Hockey Program for kids at Ft. Bragg all while attending the “Q-course” or SFQC. He also started a substance abuse program there. He was 35 at the time of his death and left a wife and two children
Our warriors face so many challenges and dangers in the war on Terrorism. And for many of them, the return home doesn’t necessarily mean an end to the terror and depression that war can cause. The number of veterans committing suicide every day is an astounding 22.
The three deaths this week in the Special Operations community exemplify the sacrifice our warriors make on a daily basis and the dangers that are inherent within our career field. While the units will close ranks and continue the mission, we also won’t forget their sacrifice. Because the cost in human lives is very expensive.
Photo courtesy of DOD