People across the country are pitching in to support the family of Staff Sgt. Matthew McClintock, the Special Forces soldier killed Tuesday in Afghanistan.
A GoFundMe page set up for McClintock's wife and infant son has raised more than $45,380 in less than 24 hours — more than nine times the initial fundraising goal of $5,000.
"Yesterday, I lost the love of my life, Declan lost his father, we all lost a loved one," McClintock's wife, Alexandra, wrote, according to the GoFundMe page dedicated to him. "Matthew's greatest wish was to be a father, a husband and a Green Beret. He got to do all of those things in his too short life. Declan will grow up knowing his father was the greatest man I've ever dreamed to know and a hero."
McClintock, 30, was killed and two other soldiers were wounded in hours-long fighting near the city of Marjah, in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province.
The two wounded soldiers have been safely evacuated to Kandahar, Afghanistan, for medical treatment, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said Thursday.
Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., a former Navy SEAL, and seven other lawmakers on the House Armed Services Committee have formally requested a briefing from the Pentagon regarding circumstances surrounding the battle. The lawmakers did not rule out a congressional investigation, according to a statement from Zinke's office.
The request comes amid reports that the U.S. troops were pinned down and under fire while "bureaucratic hurdles delayed backup support," Zinke wrote on his official Facebook page.
McClintock, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was a member of A Company, 1st Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group, of the Washington National Guard.
The Green Berets deployed to Afghanistan in July. It was McClintock's third combat deployment. He was a Special Forces engineer sergeant.
Staff Sgt. Matthew McClintock and his wife, Alexandra, just welcomed a son. Hundreds have supported McClintock's family through donations on a GoFundMe page.
Photo Credit: McClintock GoFundMe page
In her moving message, Alexandra McClintock thanked her husband's teammates for "doing everything they could to bring Matthew home to us."
She also asked for privacy as she mourned her loss.
"Know I'm grateful for your love and support," she wrote. "I am surrounded by family and our closest friends. Most people never get to find their soul mate. I'm so blessed for the three wonderful years I got to have with mine and for the rest of my life that I'll get to spend with his son."
McClintock and his fellow soldiers were advising their Afghan counterparts when they were locked in a fierce battle Tuesday against Taliban fighters, officials have said.
The soldiers' evacuation was delayed when one helicopter took fire and was unable to land, and another was unable to take off. On Tuesday afternoon, hours after the casualties were sustained, Cook said "there is still a fight going on.
'Matthew's greatest wish was to be a father, a husband and a Green Beret,' his wife said. 'He got to do all of those things in his too short life.'
Photo Credit: McClintock GoFundMe page
In their letter to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Zinke and his fellow lawmakers cited "various news reports" that "bring into question the rules of engagement for our service personnel, the assets that they have available to them, and the command structure responsible for authorizing those assets."
Concerns have been raised about the "lengthy time" it took to support the troops under fire and "whether or not authorization for a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) was intentionally delayed," the letter states. "Additionally there have been reports that an available AC-130 gunship was denied permission due to concerns of collateral damage."
The lawmakers went on to ask the Pentagon for information, including the length of the firefight, whether current rules of engagement restricted the use of military assets on hand, and whether any requests for air support were denied because of concerns for collateral damage.
The call from the members of Congress comes after media reports corroborated what Zinke, a 23-year veteran and decorated combat vet, heard from members of the special operations community, according to information from his office.
"I've commanded some of the finest [special operations forces] our nation has seen, and to think that these guys were abandoned by Washington while they were under enemy fire is unthinkable and, frankly, against everything the U.S. military stands for," Zinke said in a statement. "If there was a decision to delay the QRF or call off air strikes on enemy combatant after the ground commanders ordered it, due to overly-restrictive rules of engagement or political pressure, to me that is a clear dereliction of duty."