EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Two soldiers from Eglin Air Force base died Saturday in Afghanistan.
United States Department of Defense officials identified Sergeant 1st Class Javier Jaguar Gutierrez, 28, of San Antonio, Texas, and Sergeant 1st Class Antonio Rey Rodriguez, 28, of Las Cruces, New Mexico. They say both Gutierrez and Rodriguez died in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, while engaged in combat operations.
Officials say the soldiers were supporting Operation Freedom's Sentinel. They were both assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Eglin Air Force Base.
Senator Marco Rubio released the following statement Sunday:
“Last night, my office was informed of the tragic news that our operators from 7th Special Forces Group based in Crestview, FL lost their lives in Afghanistan. Our hearts go out to the families and friends that these patriots left behind, and my staff and I will be working with the Army to ensure they are taken care of in this difficult time.”
According to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Public Affairs Office, Sgt. 1st Class Gutierrez was from Jacksonville, North Carolina and enlisted in the Army in 2009. In 2012 he was selected to attend the Special Forces Qualification Course and graduated in 2015 as a Special Forces Communications Sergeant. He was then assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), at Eglin Air Force Base.
USASOC officials say, "Staff Sgt. Gutierrez was posthumously promoted to Sgt. 1st Class and awarded the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart."
Sgt. 1st Class Rodriguez attended the Basic Airborne Course and the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program, then assigned to 3rd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.
According to the USASOC, "Staff Sgt. Rodriguez was posthumously promoted to Sgt. 1st Class and awarded the Bronze Star
Medal and Purple Heart."
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