Roadside blast kills Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier, 21, in Afghanistan

A Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier was killed Monday in Afghanistan when an improvised bomb exploded near his vehicle, the Department of Defense announced Wednesday.

Pfc. James L. Miller, 21, of Yakima, died in Dashat, Afghanistan, according to the department. This was his first deployment.

He was a member of 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, which deployed to southern Afghanistan last summer and has now lost 35 soldiers during a tour scheduled to last one year. All but three have been killed in bombings.

According to unit records, Miller enlisted in the Army in September 2008 in Spokane. In January 2009, he arrived at Fort Lewis, and in May was assigned to the Stryker brigade’s 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment.

Miller hailed from the Yakima Valley, where Stryker troops and other Lewis-McChord units train regularly at the 300,000-plus-acre Yakima Training Center.

He is the 11th service member with ties to the Yakima Valley to die in America’s current Middle East campaigns, and the first to die in Afghanistan, according to the Yakima Herald Republic.