The Pentagon confirmed today the death of a Joint Base Lewis-McChord Army Ranger from wounds he received in Afghanistan.
Sgt. Joel D. Clarkson of Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, came under enemy fire on March 13. He was wounded (his uncle told the Whidbey News-Times of Oak Harbor he was shot in the head), treated on the battlefield, evacuated to a nearby medical facility and later flown to the American military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany.
The 23-year-old Alaska native died in Germany on March 16.
One point of correction: Clarkson was critically injured in Farah province. His family has told other newspapers – which The News Tribune repeated – that the 23-year-old Alaska native was hurt in Helmand province.
Clarkson was serving as a team leader when a Ranger task force attacked a concentration of fighters in the desert of Farah, according to a press release from U.S. Army Special Operations Command. The Americans ultimately killed eight enemy fighters, destroyed their base of operations, destroyed the insurgents’ weapons and ammunition and captured a key leader of an insurgent network.
“Thoughtful, fearless, and engaging, Sgt. Joel Clarkson possessed that intangible stuff we desire most in Ranger – the stuff of which legends are made,” battalion commander Col. Mark Odom said in a release.
Clarkson was on his second deployment to Afghanistan. He also served three tours in Iraq.
He enlisted in February 2006 and was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Lewis in September 2006. He served in the Special Operations unit as a grenadier, Squad Automatic Weapon gunner and a team leader.
“Sgt. Clarkson was the epitome of the Ranger team leader—he cared deeply for his men, always led from the front, and was at his best when the situation was the most dire,” regimental commander Col. Michael Kurilla said in a press release. “He is a hero to our nation, the Army, and his family.”