Dispatch from Forward Operating Base Payne in Southern Afghanistan:
Marines with the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion (1st LAR) just assumed control of Helmand Province one week ago.
Now they’ve suffered their first casualty.
The 1000th U.S. Service member to die in Afghanistan (by AP’s count) was a Marine with the 1st LAR. He was on foot patrol in the southern Helmand River Valley Thursday afternoon when he was killed by an IED.
Fox News is not releasing the Marine’s name, but can confirm his family has been notified and he is on his way home.
Two other marines on patrol with him were wounded. The men were medivac’d from the scene and are being treated in a military hospital for schrapnel wounds. Sources tell me there was no loss of limbs and they’re expected to survive.
The other Marines on the foot patrol assisted with the medivac and continued on their mission.
The mood on the base is somber but otherwise normal. The Battalion Commander tells me the “battle rhythym has not been disrupted.” We see it firsthand. Marines are feeling the loss but remain focused. This is an unfortunate part of the job, they tell me. Everyone wants and hopes (and sometimes expects) wars to be fought without anyone dying but it’s just not possible.
This is the first casualty suffered by the 1st LAR since taking over this area of operations from the 4th LAR one week ago.
I spoke personally with the fallen Marine’s Company Commander, who I was embedded with during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He spoke very highly of his fallen brother, a man who’s bravery and valor is without question. The Company Commander was calm. His Marines understand the risk, he told me. They will mourn the loss and never forget and they will continue to serve.