Downstate man among 2 soldiers killed in Afghanistan

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Afghanistan’s National Army soldiers guard the main road to the Bagram Airfield’s main gate in Bagram, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. | AP Photo

FORT HOOD, Texas — The Department of Defense on Monday identified two U.S. soldiers killed in an explosion at a U.S. airfield in Afghanistan.

The department said 20-year-old Pfc. Tyler R. Iubelt of Tamaroa, Illinois, and 30-year-old Sgt. John W. Perry of Stockton, California, died of injuries inflicted by an improvised explosive device. Two American contractors also died in the explosion Saturday morning. Another 16 U.S. service members and one Polish soldier were wounded.

Iubelt and Perry were assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas.

Officials at Tamaroa Grade School in the southern Illinois village of about 640 residents said Iubelt graduated in 2011. Administrators said on the school’s Facebook page that Iubelt would be remembered for his quick wit and a twinkle in his eye.

“We are so proud of him for his willingness to leave his family and community to serve our country,” the post said. “We mourn his loss and the loss felt by his family and friends.”

One of Iubelt’s friends, Matthew Doerflein, told KFVS-TV that “no one could believe it in such a small community that something like that would happen.”

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which it said was carried out by a suicide bomber inside the base. Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the insurgent group, said the attack had been planned for four months. The Taliban regularly fires rockets at Bagram from outside its perimeter.

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