Booby trap explosion killed, injured Utah National Guard members; victims’ names to be released soon

DRAPER, Utah, Aug. 17, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert revealed Thursday morning that the one Utah National Guard member killed and the 11 others injured were clearing a building in eastern Afghanistan when a booby trap triggered a deadly explosion.

Speaking at the Utah National Guards Headquarters, in Draper, Herbert said the names of those killed and injured cannot be released until all their families have been notified and 24 hours have passed since the incident, in keeping with Department of Defense protocol.

“I will spend the rest of the day in discussion, talking with the families,” Herbert said. “I will let them know of our concern and condolences. This is a tragedy for them, a tragedy for all of us. I will be reaching out to them today, letting them know our thoughts and prayers are with them.”

News of the death and injuries broke Wednesday evening with the word that one service member had been killed and seven had been injured. That was later updated to one killed and 11 injured.

Of those 11, eight are from Utah and three are Utah National Guard members who are residents of other states.

The injured have been evacuated to Germany to be flown to Walter Reed Military Hospital in Maryland for treatment.

Utah victims with lesser injuries will be flown home, when they are medically stable, to recover near their families.

The body of the service member who died will be flown to Dover, Delaware, in keeping with protocol, then be will flown to Utah.

“The war on terror is with us,” Herbert said, noting Utah troops had not had a fatality since 2010. “The war on terror continues, and our men and women are being put in harms way.”

Officials said earlier that 133 Utah National Guard members serve in Afghanistan.

The dead and injured Utah National Guards members had been on a mission “… aimed at further reducing Islamic State of Iraq and Syrian-Khorasan presence in Afghanistan,” said the statement released Wednesday. Afghan Forces also were on the mission.

“My heart aches for the loss and sacrifice of our members and their families,” said Maj. Gen. Jefferson Burton, adjutant general of the Utah National Guard, in the statement.

“I know that what we do is dangerous and important work for our country’s defense, but this realization does little to console me during times of loss such as this.”

On Thursday, Herbert asked Utahns to remember the explosion’s victims and all who serve, and “… keep them all in our prayers, for their safety and their well being.”

Gephardt Daily will provide additional information on this developing story as it becomes available.

This undated photo is from the Utah National Guard’s Twitter page.


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