North Carolina National Guardsman Killed in Helmand Province
A North Carolina National Guardsman was killed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan on Thursday when his unit was hit with two IEDs. The Pentagon identified the soldier as Sgt James A. Slape, 23. He was posthumously promoted to Sergeant from Specialist.
Slape was an Explosive Ordnance Technician assigned to the 430th Explosive Ordnance Company, part of the 60th Troop Command. He joined the National Guard in 2013 and became an EOD Technician in 2015, according to Military.com.
He was attempting to clear the area after one of the vehicles in the unit was damaged from an IED.
“He left his vehicle and was working to clear the area when another IED detonated. Slape was medically evacuated to a medical care facility but despite valiant efforts to save him, his wounds were fatal.” Sgt. First Class Debra Richardson, spokeswoman for the NATO Resolute Support mission Kabul
Using an abbreviation for armored personnel carrier, a Taliban spokesman claimed on social media Thursday that an IED “shred (a U.S.) APC … to pieces” near Camp Dwyer in Helmand’s Garmsir district. Richardson did not say what type of vehicle had been damaged in the blast or how badly it was damaged, other than describing it as “non-mission capable.”
On Facebook Friday, several of Slape’s friends changed their profile photos to images of the Army’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Badge covered by a black band symbolizing mourning.
“We are deeply saddened by the news of Sgt. James Slape losing his life while serving our country,” Maj. Gen. Greg Lusk, North Carolina National Guard adjutant, said in a statement. “We honor his courage, his selfless service and we extend our deepest sympathy to his family, friends, and fellow soldiers as we hold them firmly in our hearts and prayers during this difficult time.”
The incident is under investigation.
Helmand Province has been a particularly bloody battleground in Afghanistan. The Taliban has strongholds there due to the drug production in the area.