A veteran sergeant from Joint Base Lewis-McChord was killed in Afghanistan Tuesday by an enemy improvised explosive, his family told local news media in his home state of Colorado.
Sgt. 1st Class Barett McNabb, 33, of Chino Valley, Ariz. was fighting in Kandahar Province with the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. The brigade arrived in Afghanistan in April and May, and it has lost four soldiers since then.
The Defense Department said McNabb was assigned to the brigade’s 562nd Engineer Company, a unit that traditionally looks for buried bombs and clears them from roads.
His lieutenant mourned him in message released through Lewis-McChord.
“Sgt. 1st Class McNabb was an inspirational and highly motivated leader who always put the needs of his Sappers [engineer soldiers] before his own,” said Lt. Robert Gold, the company’s executive officer. “Always quick with a joke and a smile, McNabb’s personality could light up the darkest place.”
McNabb served on four combat deployments since he joined the Army 13 years ago. This was his first deployment to Afghanistan. He served twice in Iraq and once in Kuwait.
He is survived by wife, Georgette, stepdaughter Jessica and son Jacob.
The Pueblo Chieftan reported that McNabb’s family in 2003 organized a drive to send the comforts of home to McNabb’s unit as it fought in the early days of the Iraq War. McNabb and his fellow soldiers received perks like coffee, candy and cards from students at an elementary school.
“One banner was so huge it went across three walls. It read, ‘Thank you, we are proud of you,’ and it was decorated with handprints and signed by the kids who had each written words of encouragement,” McNabb told the newspaper in 2004.
He remembered the pain of losing friends on combat that tour, especially during the holidays.
“I stared at a huge table of food and a room full of soldiers and felt totally alone,” McNabb told The Chieftan. “I looked at the other guys’ faces and could see they were feeling the same way.”