Two soldiers from Fort Lewis were killed when an improvised explosive device hit their vehicle Monday in southern Afghanistan, the Department of Defense announced today.
The soldiers were identified as 1st Lt. David T. Wright, II, a 26-year-old from Moore, Okla., and Sgt. Andrew H. McConnell, a 24-year-old native of Carlisle, Pa.
The soldiers were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, which is stationed at Fort Lewis and deployed to Afghanistan in July.
The announcement comes on the same day that Fort Lewis will honor three soldiers killed in separate attacks. Spc. Jonathan D. Welch, Pfc. Jordan M. Brochu, and Spc. Tyler R. Walshe-Vietti, died when a bomb exploded Aug. 31 during a dismounted patrol in Shuyene Sufia in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan. The three soldiers served with 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. Their memorial service will begin at 1:30 p.m. at North Fort Chapel.
The 5th Stryker Brigade has been hit since it arrived in Afghanistan. With the deaths of McConnell and Wright, the brigade has lost 11 soldiers. Nine of the deaths have come from the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment. The 5th Brigade represents a crucial part of the 21,000-person troop buildup to break the stalemate throughout much of Afghanistan. Fort Lewis has between 4,000 and 5,000 troops in the country.
The Defense Department reports enemy forces attacked Wright and McConnell’s vehicle with an improvised explosive.
Wright enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2007. He reported to Fort Lewis in August 2008 and was assigned to the 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. He was on his first deployment. He earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Oklahoma and had received the National Defense Service Media, Airborne badge and Air Assault badge.
McConnell enlisted in the Army in October 2005 and reported to Fort Lewis in January 2007. He too was on his first deployment.
His awards and commendations include the Army Achievement Medal (four awards), Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Expert Infantryman Badge and Air Assault Badge.