Army Ranger from Ohio dies in Afghanistan fighting ISIS, Pentagon says

Posted at 11:17 AM, Apr 28, 2017

An Army Ranger from Ohio died in Afghanistan Thursday, the Pentagon said in a news release.

Sgt. Cameron H. Thomas, 23, of Kettering, was killed "supporting Operation Freedom's Sentinel" in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, according to a release from U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

Thomas and one other soldier, Joshua P. Rodgers, 22, of Bloomington, Ill., were killed as the result of "small arms fire while engaged in dismounted operations," the Pentagon said in a release. Both soldiers were stationed in Fort Benning, Georgia. A third soldier was wounded.

U.S. Forces Afghanistan is investigating the possibility that the two Rangers were killed by friendly fire, according to a news release. Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said that it was "possible" they "were struck by friendly fire," but also said it did not appear to be intentional.

Thomas and Rodgers were killed as part of an operation targeting ISIS-K, the terror group's Afghanistan affiliate.

"The fight against ISIS-K is important for the world, but sadly, it is not without sacrifice," Gen. John W. Nicholson, commander of US Forces-Afghanistan, told CNN. "On behalf of all US forces and our coalition partners, I offer our deepest sympathies to the families, friends and fellow service members of our fallen comrades."

The raid on the ISIS-K compound began at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, local time, according to U.S. Forces Afghanistan. Two platoons of Rangers and an equivalent-sized force of Afghan Special Security Forces were flown into the Mohmand Valley by helicopter.

The force "came under intense fire from multiple directions and well-prepared fighting positions," U.S. Forces Afghanistan said in a written statement.

Several high-level ISIS-K leaders and about 35 fighters were also killed, according to U.S. Forces Afghanistan.

"If confimed, the death of the Emir and his associates will significantly degrade ISIS-K operations in Afghanistan and help reach our goal of destroying them in 2017," U.S. Forces Afghanistan wrote.

Thomas graduated from Fairmont High School in Kettering in 2012. He enlisted in the Army that year.

This was Thomas' third deployment to Afghanistan.

"As parents, Ohioans and Americans, our hearts break for Sgt. Thomas’ family. Connie and I express our deepest sympathies to everyone who knew and loved him," Sen. Sherrod Brown said. "No words can express the debt of gratitude we owe to Sgt. Thomas and his family, but we can promise their sacrifice will not be forgotten and we will work to honor their service to our country by supporting our veterans and all those still serving."

Nangarhar is the same province where the U.S. dropped the so-called "mother of all bombs" earlier this month. At least 94 Islamic State fighters, including four commanders, were killed in that bombing.