It was the deadliest day so far for Fort Lewis soldiers since the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, according to a News Tribune analysis of casualty numbers.
Eight soldiers from the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division were killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday, Fort Lewis spokesman Joseph Piek confirmed Wednesday. Seven died when an improvised explosive device hit their armored Stryker vehicle on patrol, while the eighth was killed in a separate bomb attack.
A source told The News Tribune that the seven who died together were members of the same battalion – the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment. The 1-17 has taken most of the 26 casualties in southern Afghanistan since 5th Brigade deployed there in July.
Piek said families of all eight soldiers were notified, but he said their names would likely not be released before today.
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Wednesday was an anxious day for soldiers and family members at the local Army post as they awaited word of who had been killed and wounded. Some prepared for a candlelight vigil tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Four Chaplains Memorial Chapel. Many attended a memorial service for Spc. Michael Dahl Jr., a 5th Brigade soldier who died in another bombing in the Taliban heartland on Oct. 17.
“The military family has been marvelous in doing absolutely everything to provide care for the families and affected soldiers,” Col. Kenneth Hegtvedt, who serves as rear detachment chaplain, said after the ceremony.
The deaths bring to 55 the total number of Americans killed in October in Afghanistan – a record monthly toll.
Debbie Cafazzo: 253-597-8635
Matt Misterek: 253-597-8472