Clockwise from left: Special Agent Joseph M. Peters, Sgt. Patrick C. Hawkins, 1st Lt. Jennifer M. Moreno and Pfc. Cody J. Patterson ()
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The four soldiers killed and 14 wounded in Afghanistan in early October were on a Special Operations raid of a Taliban bomber-maker’s compound in the southern part of the country.
An assault force of 40 soldiers with the 75th Ranger Regiment entered a compound in the Zharay district west of Kandahar on Oct. 5, that one special operations official described as a “suicide vest and improvised explosive device factory.” But as Rangers approached, a man wearing a suicide vest emerged from a nearby building and detonated it.
As other Rangers moved in to help the wounded, a series of buried improvised bombs — some pressure plate activated or daisy-chained — detonated, according to Lt. Col. Brian DeSantis, a spokesman for the 75th Ranger Regiment.
“They had clearly prepared it for a defense,” DeSantis said. “There were multiple IEDs.”
There were 14 people seriously wounded, DeSantis said.
The soldiers killed were: Sgt. Patrick C. Hawkins, 25, of Carlisle, Pa., and Pfc. Cody J. Patterson, 24, of Philomath, Ore., both with Company B, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, Ga.; Sgt. Joseph M. Peters, 24, of Springfield, Mo., a CID special agent with the 5th Military Police Battalion, Vicenza, Italy; and Capt. Jennifer M. Moreno, 25, of San Diego, Calif., a nurse with a special ops cultural support team.
Col. Christopher S. Vanek, commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment, called Hawkins a “man of character and commitment” and said Patterson, “had a limitless future.”
Sgt. Patrick C. Hawkins
Hawkins was moving to the aid of a fallen comrade when he was killed, said Col. Patrick J. Ellis, commander of 3rd Battalion. “His actions that night were in keeping with the epitome of the Ranger Creed: ‘I will never leave a fallen comrade.’”
Hawkins, who turned 25 five days before he was killed, was on his fourth deployment. He served as a rifleman, gun team leader and Ranger team leader with Company B.
He holds the Ranger tab, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Parachutist Badge, and the U.S. Army Expert Rifle Marksmanship Qualification Badge. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal and Purple Heart.
He is survived by his wife and parents.
Pfc. Cody J. Patterson
“Pfc. Cody Patterson was the poster child for the Ranger Regiment,” Ellis said of the rifleman, who was killed on his second deployment to Afghanistan.
“He was courageous and dedicated and lost his life while fighting tenaciously against our nation’s enemies alongside his fellow Rangers. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Patterson family.”
Patterson’s holds the Parachutist Badge and the Army Expert Rifle Marksmanship Qualification Badge. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal and Purple Heart.
Patterson is survived by his parents, and a sister, all in Philomath, Ore.
“The family of Cody Patterson is proud of his service to his country, his bravery, and his sacrifice. There are not enough words to express the depth of our heartbreak over his tragic loss. We will feel his absence forever,” his family said in a statement.
“Cody was a small town boy with a large extended family and deep ties to his hometown and surrounding community. He will be missed and remembered by so many for his sense of humor, compassion, and strength.”
Capt. Jennifer M. Moreno
Moreno was commissioned into the Army as a nurse. She completed the Army Airborne Course in 2009 and served in a medical surgical unit at Madigan before she deployed in June — her first tour — with a special operations cultural support team. Such teams are typically composed of female soldiers who can engage Afghan women.
“She was making a difference in Afghanistan, and that legacy will live on,” Ellis said.
Moreno posthumously received the Combat Action Badge, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Purple Heart, Afghanistan Campaign Medal and NATO Medal. She previously held the Parachutist Badge. She was also posthumously promoted to captain.
She is survived by her mother, two sisters and her brother, who is also a soldier.
Sgt. Joseph M. Peters
Peters was on his third deployment. He completed courses in protective services, human intelligence collection, crime scene investigation and analyst-interrogator collaboration.
Maj. Gen. David Quantock, the Army’s provost marshal general and commander of Army CID, praised Peters. “His death is a reminder ... of the unequaled contributions our military members and their families make on a daily basis in the defense of the freedoms that we all enjoy and value so dearly.”
He posthumously received the Combat Action Badge, Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
Peters is survived by his wife and 20-month-old son.