The Department of Defense announced the death of U.S. Army Sergeant James Slape, 23, of Morehead City, North Carolina, who perished in Afghanistan last week.
Slape died last Thursday from wounds sustained in an improvised explosive device attack in Helmand Province. He was assigned to the 60th Troop Command of the North Carolina Army National Guard and was deployed in support of Operations Resolute Support and Freedom’s Sentinel.
The incident is under investigation but the Washington Post has reported that Slape, an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) technician, was killed while helping fellow soldiers who had been wounded in an IED attack. Slape was reportedly killed by a secondary device as he assisted other soldiers.
What is known about the incident is that a U.S. military vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. Slape attempted to clear a path of secondary explosive devices so others could assist the stricken vehicle, when another IED detonated, severely wounding Slape. A MEDEVAC was called in for him but he succumbed to his injuries a short time later.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, Sgt. 1st Class Debra Richardson, said Slape was based in Afghanistan at Camp Dwyer, in Helmand Province’s Garmser district. “The soldier was medically evacuated to a medical care facility, but despite valiant efforts to save him, his wounds were fatal,” said Richardson.
On Monday morning, Slape’s family released photos of Slape and his loved ones, as well as a statement that read, in part:
“We, the family and friends of North Carolina Army National Guard Sgt. James Slape, would like to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers at this difficult time. There are no words to express how much we miss James already. He was a loving husband, a devoted son and a true hero to his country.”
Slape joined the North Carolina National Guard in 2013 and graduated from Explosive Ordnance School as an explosive ordnance specialist in 2015.
Slape’s death on October 4th came three days before the 17th anniversary of the start of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. On October 7, 2001, U.S. forces launched Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan as part of the Global War on Terrorism and in response to the 9/11 terror attacks. Seventeen years later, there are still 15,000 U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan.
There has been heavy fighting in much of Afghanistan this year as a resurgent Taliban aims to retake control of the country and dissuade the United States and its allies from remaining in the country. According to the Long War Journal, the Taliban currently control 49 districts in Afghanistan, with another 200 contested. The government of Afghanistan controls 147 districts.
October is now the fifth month in a row in which a U.S. service member has been killed in Afghanistan. According to the Defense Casualty Analysis System, eight U.S. military members have been killed and 76 wounded in Afghanistan so far in 2018.
Other deaths involving hostilities include those of Command Sergeant Major Timothy Bolyard, Staff Sergeant Reymund Transfiguracion, Sergeant First Class Christopher Celiz, Corporal Joseph Maciel, Specialist Gabriel Conde, and Sergeant 1st Class Mihail Golin.