A 36-year-old Wisconsin man was one of five soldiers killed this week in an attack in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense announced Wednesday.
Staff Sgt. Matthew J. West of Conover was killed Monday when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device in the Arghandab River Valley, according to the Department of Defense.
West was based at Fort Carson, Colo., and was assigned to the 71st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group. He graduated in 1992 from Gaylord High School in Gaylord, Mich., a school administrator said Wednesday.
West is survived by his wife and three children, his sister told the Traverse City Record-Eagle.
West joined the Army in 2004 and had served tours of more than a year in both Iraq and Afghanistan before being sent to Afghanistan again in July, according to Fort Carson officials.
West is the third soldier with ties to Wisconsin killed in Afghanistan in the last week.
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Five Fort Carson soldiers, including one from Wisconsin, were killed when their unit was attacked with an improvised bomb in Afghanistan, the Defense Department said Wednesday.
The soldiers killed in Monday’s attack were identified as Capt. Dale A. Goetz, 43, of White, S.D.; Staff Sgt. Jesse Infante, 30, of Cypress, Texas; Staff Sgt. Kevin J. Kessler, 32, of Canton, Ohio; Staff Sgt. Matthew J. West, 36, of Conover, Wis.; and Pfc. Chad D. Clements, 26, of Huntington, Ind.
West was assigned to the 71st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group. The others were part of the 4th Infantry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team, which arrived in Afghanistan this summer.
The attack happened in the Arghandab River Valley, a lush and heavily mined Taliban stronghold.
Clements’ family in Huntington, Ind., told WTHR-TV that he died as a Humvee he was in was hit by an explosion near Kandahar.
Clements graduated from Huntington North High School in 2002 and enlisted in the Army last year for financial reasons and was deployed to Afghanistan July 25. He received the National Defense Service Medal and Afghanistan Campaign Medal.
“The service did a lot for him, probably taught him to appreciate things a little more,” said his grandmother, Betty Beady. She last spoke to her grandson Saturday.
Family and friends described him as an easy going, reserved and thoughtful person who valued family.
West was previously deployed to Afghanistan in 2006 and served in Iraq from March 2008 to June 2009. He received the Bronze Star and Joint Service Commendation Medal.
West is survived by his wife and three children. West’s sister, Kristine Willis, said her brother was a 1992 graduate of Gaylord High School in Michigan.
Infante was an explosive ordnance specialist who joined the Army in 2000. He was deployed to Iraq in December 2005 for a year and to Afghanistan July 25. He received the Army Commendation Medal and Army Achievement Medal.
Kessler, a motor transport operator, joined the Army in June 2004. He served in Iraq for a year starting in January 2005 and again from May 2007 to August 2008. He was deployed to Afghanistan in May. He received the Army Commendation Medal with Valor and Army Commendation Medal.
Goetz, who was in the Chaplain Corps., entered the Army in January 2000. He was deployed to Iraq from November 2004 to September 2005 and was in Afghanistan since July 25. He received the Meritorious Service Medal and Army Commendation Medal.
Fort Carson, an Army post outside Colorado Springs, has suffered heavy losses in Afghanistan.
Eight Fort Carson soldiers were killed in an attack on a remote outpost in northeastern part of the country in October 2009.
As of late Tuesday, the U.S. death toll for Afghanistan in August stood at 56 — three-quarters of them in the second half of the month as the Taliban fought back against U.S. pressure in southern and eastern strongholds. American losses accounted for more than 70 percent of the 76 fatalities suffered by the entire NATO-led force.