The Army confirmed the death of a soldier assigned to the evacuation mission in Kabul following the Thursday attack in Afghanistan that killed 13 U.S. troops and wounded at least 18 more.
The soldier was assigned to 1st Special Forces Command, the unit announced in a Friday evening series of tweets.
“Our teammate died not only serving our nation, but helping to give others a life of freedom and opportunity,” the command announced. “The sacrifices made by our soldiers and families over the past 20 years were not in vain, and our mission in Afghanistan is not yet over.”
The Islamic State in Afghanistan claimed responsibility for the attack, which was the third deadliest single engagement for American troops in the entire war, and the deadliest that didn’t include a helicopter going down. More than 70 Afghans, including dozens of Taliban, were also killed, Taliban and hospital sources told Al Jazeera.
“It is with a heavy heart we confirm one Soldier died as a result of the attack in Kabul yesterday,” reads an Army statement issued Friday morning. “No further information will be released until 24-hours after next of kin notification is complete.”
A defense official had previously told Military Times that a soldier was killed in the attack.
It was not immediately clear whether any Army personnel were wounded in the assault.
Senior leaders expressed their condolences and encouragement for the troops continuing the mission.
“My heart goes out to the families and friends of the victims of the terrible, cowardly attacks in Kabul. I join all of my fellow DoD leaders in honoring our Service Members’ sacrifice–they gave all for others,” said Army Secretary Christine Wormuth. “Our Army mourns the loss of our Soldier and we are here to support his family and friends. His fellow Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, & Airmen continue their brave mission.”
“I am heart-broken by the appalling attacks in Kabul and offer my sincere condolences to the families of the victims,” said Gen. James McConville, the Army’s chief of staff. “These fallen Service Members died ensuring that others might live. They represent the very best of America, and we continue this mission in their honor.”
The complex attack began with a suicide bombing at the Abbey Gate of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul amid the ongoing evacuation of U.S. citizens, permanent residents and Afghans who assisted U.S. forces throughout the nearly 20-year war.
In the aftermath of the blast, one or more gunmen then engaged U.S. troops with “direct fire,” according to Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor, who briefed reporters Friday morning.
U.S. Central Command spokesperson Navy Capt. Bill Urban said the wounded were evacuated via specially-equipped C-17s.
The wounded are “in the process of being [medically evacuated] from Afghanistan on specially equipped C-17s with embarked surgical units,” Urban said Thursday. “We continue to provide the best possible medical care to those injured. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the injured and to the friends and family of those who were killed.”
Thursday’s attack was the third deadliest for U.S. forces during the two-decade-long war in Afghanistan.
Operation Red Wings in 2005 saw the deaths of 17 Americans. The deadliest incident was the 2011 shootdown of Extortion 17, a CH-47 Chinook carrying 37 U.S. troops, an Afghan interpreter, and a military working dog.
Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army, specializing in accountability reporting, personnel issues and military justice. He joined Military Times in 2020. Davis studied history at Vanderbilt University and UNC-Chapel Hill, writing a master's thesis about how the Cold War-era Defense Department influenced Hollywood's WWII movies.