A downstate Bloomington resident, one of two U.S. Army Rangers killed Wednesday in Afghanistan, may been hit by friendly fire..
The Americans were killed, and a third wounded, during a ground assault against Islamic State fighters Wednesday, according to the U.S. military.
On Friday, the Pentagon said they were killed in a night raid against an Islamic State compound and may have died from friendly fire.
The U.S. forces were accompanying Afghan troops on a raid when they came under attack by the Islamic State Khorasan group in Nangarhar Province in eastern Afghanistan, according to Navy Capt. Bill Salvin, U.S. military spokesman in Kabul. Dozens of IS fighters were also killed.
The Department of Defense did not release the names of the soldiers killed, but friends and family members on Facebook identified him as Sgt. Josh P. Rodgers, 22, a native of Bloomington and a 2013 graduate of Normal Community High School.
“Within a few minutes of landing, our combined force came under intense fire from multipledirections and well-prepared fighting positions,” the Pentagon statement said. “Nevertheless, our forces successfully closed onthe enemy, killed several high-level ISIS-K leaders and upwards of 35 fighters.”
U.S. Forces Afghanistan said in a statement that it is “is investigating the possibilitythat the two Rangers were accidentally killed by friendlyfire.” The statement said the two men’s families have been notified of the possibility.
The statement said the death of the emirand his associates, if confirmed, “will significantly degrade ISIS-K operations in Afghanistanand help reach our goal of destroying them in 2017.”Easton Schaber, a friend of Rodgers, posted: “This is crazy … I always looked up to this guy in football and track in high school … he was a man of very few words and if you needed him he was always there. Rest easy Josh Rodgers. I know I’ll see you again.”
An online biography of Rodgers, posted on the Facebook page of RLTW, an Army Rangers alumni group, said he was born Aug. 22, 1994, in Normal; enlisted in the Army in August 2013; and completed basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia, as an infantryman.
He then the Basic Airborne Course, followed by a Ranger Assessment and Selection Program, also at Fort Benning. After graduation, he was assigned to Company C, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. Rodgers was a machine gunner, semi-automatic gunner, gun team leader and Ranger team leader who was serving his third deployment to Afghanistan, according to RLTW.
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill) released a statement, saying: “My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Bloomington soldier, Sergeant Josh Rodgers. We owe a tremendous debt to Sergeant Rodgers for his service to our nation. His loss is a solemn reminder that the freedom we enjoy each day in this country is not free. Sergeant Rodgers joins a long line of heroes whose service and sacrifice to our nation will never be forgotten.”
U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood also released a statement: “I am heartbroken to hear of the loss of Sergeant Joshua Rodgers who was killed in action in Afghanistan late Wednesday night. The Bloomington-Normal community, the 18th District, and our nation lost a hero last night as Sergeant Rodgers courageously defended our nation. My deepest condolences go out to the family of Josh Rodgers, and I pray that his service and sacrifice to our nation may never be forgotten.”
The deadly raid took place in the Mohmand Valley, the same region where the so-called “mother of all bombs” was dropped on an IS complex two weeks ago.
That bombing came just days after a U.S. Army special forces soldier was killed in the region.
“The fight against ISIS-K is important for the world, but sadly, it is not without sacrifice,” said Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan.