Special Forces Soldier Identified as Latest Combat Death in Afghanistan

Army Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Griffin was killed in Afghanistan on Sept. 16, 2019. (U.S. Army photo)
Army Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Griffin was killed in Afghanistan on Sept. 16, 2019. (U.S. Army photo)

The U.S. soldier killed Monday in Afghanistan has been identified as Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy W. Griffin, 41, with 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), Army Special Operations Command announced Tuesday.

Griffin had served two previous tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq.

"He was a warrior, an accomplished, respected and loved Special Forces soldier that will never be forgotten," Col. Owen G. Gray, commander of 1st Special Forces Group, said in a statement.

The loss of Griffin, a 15-year Army veteran, will be "felt across the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) family and the entire Special Forces community," Gray said in a news release from Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Griffin was killed by small-arms fire Monday in Afghanistan's central Wardak province, west of Kabul, the command said.

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His death was the first in combat for a U.S. service member following the collapse of peace talks with the Taliban earlier this month and announcements from President Donald Trump and U.S. Central Command that offensives against the Taliban will be stepped up.

Griffin was the 17th U.S. service member killed in combat this year in Afghanistan, the most since 2014, when the Defense Department announced that Afghan security forces would be taking the lead in combat operations.

Griffin enlisted on April 6, 2004, and had previous assignments with the 82nd Airborne Division and 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) prior to attending and graduating from the Special Forces Qualification Course in September 2014.

He was serving as a Special Forces communications sergeant to 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, when he was killed, Army Special Operations Command said.

Griffin, of Greenbrier, Tennessee, was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, the command said.

His previous awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal (with one Oak Leaf Cluster); Army Achievement Medal (with three Oak Leaf Clusters); Afghanistan Campaign Medal (with three Campaign Stars); the Iraq Campaign Medal; the Korea Defense Service Medal; the Army Marksmanship Qualification Badge (Expert); Parachutist Badge; Master Military Free Fall Parachutist Badge; Combat Infantry Badge; and Ranger and Army Special Forces Tabs.

Griffin was on the fourth combat deployment of his Army career, the command said. He had deployed with the 82nd Airborne Division to Iraq in 2006 and Afghanistan in 2009.

He deployed again to Afghanistan in 2016 with 1st SFG (A), and also served an overseas rotation to Korea in 2018, according to the command.

His resume, provided by the command, indicated that he was one of the Army's most highly trained noncommissioned officers.

He had graduated from the Basic, Advanced and Senior Leader Courses; U.S. Army Basic and Advanced Airborne Schools; Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, Basic Korean Course; Ranger School; and the Basic and Advanced Military Free Fall Parachutist Courses.

He had also graduated from the Military Freefall Advanced Tactical Infiltration Course; Special Operations Joint Terminal Attack Controller Course; Special Forces Intelligence Sergeants Course; and Special Forces Qualification Course, the command said.

His death came amid a new wave of violence across Afghanistan as the Taliban vowed to disrupt presidential elections scheduled for the end of September.

On Tuesday, a suicide bombing claimed by the Taliban killed at least 26 and wounded 42 near a campaign rally where Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was speaking at Charikar in Parwan province, north of Kabul, according to Afghanistan's Tolo News and Western news outlets.

Ghani was unhurt in the attack by a suicide bomber on a motorcycle, the reports said. Parwan province is home to the largest U.S. base in Afghanistan at Bagram Air Field.

Also on Tuesday, another suicide bombing claimed by the Taliban in Kabul's Massoud Square killed at least 22 and wounded 38 near a Ministry of Defense Building, Tolo News reported.

The Ministry of Interior issued a statement following the Kabul attack saying: "The Taliban terrorists have sustained major blows by the brave members of the Afghan security and defense forces on the battlefield, and they face shameful setbacks on every front, so they plan brutal and chaos-causing attacks on civilians," Tolo News reported.

For more than nine months, the Taliban had participated in a series of peace talks with U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Doha, Qatar, aimed at allowing the initial withdrawal over 135 days of about 5,000 of the estimated 14,000 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan.

Another 8,000 allied troops in the NATO Resolute Support Mission bring the total of coalition forces to about 22,000.

However, Trump announced that he had called off a potential Sept. 8 meeting with Taliban representatives at the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland, following the Sept. 5 death in Afghanistan of Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, 34, of Puerto Rico.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the explosive device detonation that killed Ortiz and a Romanian soldier at a checkpoint near NATO headquarters and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

Ortiz was on his third deployment to Afghanistan and was assigned to the 82nd Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, at Fort Bragg, the Army said.

-- Military.com's Matthew Cox contributed to this report.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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