Two Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers were killed Friday in combat in eastern Afghanistan.
The two soldiers, Sgt. Michael Knapp and Sgt. Jabraun Knox, died of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with indirect fire in Asadabad, the capital of Kunar province, according to the Pentagon.
They were assigned to the 1st Battalion (Air Assault), 377th Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Fires Brigade, which deployed from Lewis-McChord in October.
That brings to five the number of soldiers stationed at Lewis-McChord killed in Afghanistan this year.
Knapp, 28, listed his hometown as Overland Park, Kan. He was just days away from returning home for a two-week leave, a Kansas City, Mo., television station reported. He was married, and the father of a 9-month-old girl.
“Mike was a soldier through and through and you just couldn’t ask for a guy that’s more loyal to our country and to my daughter, and then to my granddaughter,” Knapp’s father-in-law, Tom Brassfield, told the television station.
Knox joined the military in October 2003. He served in Kosovo for one year and was deployed twice to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to Lewis-McChord.
Knapp was assigned to Lewis-McChord in March 2011.
Knox, 23, had a wife and an infant at home in Auburn, Ind. He had recently returned to Afghanistan after a 15-day leave. He had arrived home April 19 to surprise his wife, Courtney, and their infant son, Braylon, according to The Star of Auburn.
Knox played football and baseball in high school. He served as the kicker and quarterback on the football team.
He joined the Army in January 2009 in his home state of Indiana. He was assigned to Lewis-McChord in June 2009 and was deployed to Iraq from July 2009 to May 2010. He went to Afghanistan in October with his unit.
His football coach said Knox had a great personality and was friendly.
“He liked to kid around and joke around but, on the same token, he could be serious when it was time to be serious and be competitive and work hard in practice and games,” coach Jim Hummer told WANE-TV in Fort Wayne, Ind. “He was a fun person to be around and that rubbed off on his peers too.”
Col. Kenneth L. Kamper, 17th Fires Brigade commander, issued a statement concerning the deaths of Knapp and Knox.
“Their actions and sacrifices for their unit and mission will always be remembered,” he said. “They were sons, husbands, fathers and soldiers who contributed immeasurably to their families, communities, our unit and the nation. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families.”