Spc. John M. Dawson: First U.S. Soldier to Die in Afghanistan Since Combat Mission Ended

By Ali Meyer | April 20, 2015 | 5:37 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) – U.S. Army Specialist John M. Dawson died in Afghanistan on April 8, 2015, representing the first service member to die in Afghanistan since the combat mission there officially ended, according to the Department of Defense (DOD).

U.S. Army Spc. John M. Dawson, who was killed in Afghanistan on Apr. 8, 2015. (DoD)

Dawson was supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel when he died in Jalalabad, Afghanistan of wounds suffered from small arms fire while he was on an escort mission.

President Barack Obama announced the end of the combat mission in Afghanistan, known as Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), on Dec. 28, 2014. Operation Freedom’s Sentinel is the follow-on mission that continued in 2015.

“For more than 13 years, ever since nearly 3,000 innocent lives were taken from us on 9/11, our nation has been at war in Afghanistan,” said Obama on Dec. 28, 2014. “Now, thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, our combat mission in Afghanistan is ending, and the longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion.”

“At the invitation of the Afghan government, and to preserve the gains we have made together, the United States -- along with our allies and partners -- will maintain a limited military presence in Afghanistan to train, advise and assist Afghan forces and to conduct counterterrorism operations against the remnants of al Qaeda,” Obama added.

That same day, then-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that the continuing limited military presence in Afghanistan that President Obama was referring to would be called Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, and President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

“In 2015, we begin our follow-on mission, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, to help secure and build upon the hard-fought gains of the last 13 years,” said Hagel. “In Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, the United States will pursue two missions with the support of the Afghan government and the Afghan people. We will work with our allies and partners as part of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission to continue training, advising and assisting Afghan security forces. And we will continue our counterterrorism mission against the remnants of Al-Qaeda to ensure that Afghanistan is never again used to stage attacks against our homeland.”

Since the beginning of war in Afghanistan (OEF) more than 13 years ago, 2,232 U.S. service personnel have given their lives and around Afghanistan with the aim of removing al-Qaeda there.

Spc. John M. Dawson was 22 years old and from the town of Whitinsville, Mass. He had been assigned to the 1st Squadron, 33rdCavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborn Division. His funeral was held on Monday, April 20, in Upton, Mass.

Dawson’s death represents the first of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and the first death since the combat mission has ended in Afghanistan.

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