Two U.S. servicemen who died in Afghanistan this week were based in Colorado and Texas, the Pentagon said in identifying the soldiers Thursday.
The Defense Department said Master Sgt. Michael B. Riley and Sgt. James G. Johnston were killed Tuesday by small arms fire in Uruzgan province.
U.S. officials did not detail the attack, but a Taliban spokesman has said they were killed in an ambush.
Riley, 32, was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group in Fort Carson, Colo., and Johnston, 24, to 79th Ordnance Battalion, 71st Ordnance Group in Fort Hood, Texas. They were the eighth and ninth U.S. servicemen to die in Afghanistan this year.
The Pentagon said Riley and Johnston were part of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. Riley, of Heilbronn, Germany, had received a Bronze Star and Meritorious Service Medal after joining the Army in 2006.
“Mike was an experienced special forces noncommissioned officer and the veteran of five previous deployments to Afghanistan,” Col. Lawrence G. Ferguson, commander of the 10th Special Forces Group, said in a statement Thursday. “We will honor his service and sacrifice as we remain steadfast in our commitment to our mission.”
Johnston, of Trumansburg, N.Y., enlisted in 2013 and had received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
“He was the epitome of what we as soldiers all aspire to be: intelligent, trained, always ready,” Lt. Col. Stacy M. Enyeart, his battalion commander, said in a statement.
“We will honor his service and his sacrifice to this nation as we continue to protect others from explosive hazards around the world.”