Image courtesy: Pfc. David Hauk, U.S. Army. Kandahar, Afghanistan, November 12, 2009

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Flashes of freedom

Image courtesy: Staff Sgt. Gary Witte

American troops in Afghanistan are busy manning observation posts, sweeping for roadside bombs, digging canals, hunting terrorists, and coordinating with local officials. For instance, over the weekend, NATO said coalition forces dismantled a key tunnel system, destroyed numerous improvised explosive devices, and killed insurgents near Diwar in Zharay District. The area is known as a staging ground for terrorists fighting our troops and murdering civilians in Kandahar, where the overall success of the war in Afghanistan may be determined.

It is sometimes difficult for Americans at home to recognize the progress being made on the ground. But while painful, it is also essential to appreciate the sacrifices of our fallen troops and the needs of their families. Over the past 24 hours, the Pentagon has released the names of six volunteer warriors killed while supporting combat operations around the war zone.

Lance Cpl. Kevin Cornelius, 20, Ashtabula, Ohio
Pfc. Vincent Gammone III, 19, Christiana, Tennessee
Pfc. Paul Cuzzupe, 23, Plant City, Florida
Sgt. Andrew Nicol, 23, Kensington, New Hampshire
Pfc. Bradley Rappuhn, 24, Grand Ledge, Michigan
Cpl. Max Donahue, 23, Highlands Ranch, Colorado

Fox News reports that two U.S. Marines were killed over the weekend when a terrorist tried to escape from an undisclosed prison in southern Afghanistan. NATO said the prisoner was being given time to pray when he seized a guard's rifle and began firing. The Marines were killed in the ensuing chaos before the terrorist was shot dead. It is not clear if Lance Cpl. Cornelius and Pfc. Gammone, who both died in Helmand province on Saturday, were the Marines killed in the prison.

Soldiers and Marines who served with these departed warriors will always remember their accomplishments on the battlefield and treasure their friendship for years to come. The Unknown Soldiers will continue to relay the personal stories of our nation's true heroes in the difficult weeks and months ahead, while also noting the extraordinary accomplishments of our brave forces in harm's way. Thank you to all the brave men and women in uniform serving around the world with honor, dignity, and patriotism.

Note: This post was edited several times to reflect new casualty reports.

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