Pentagon Names First American Service Member Killed in Attack by ISIS in Iraq

By Patrick Goodenough | March 20, 2016 | 10:39 PM EDT

U.S. Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and Navy SEALs debrief during a training exercise in the Atlantic Ocean in July 2015, as the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group prepared to deploy in the Middle East region later in the year. (Photo: DoD)

(CNSNews.com) – The Department of Defense has identified a U.S. Marine who is the first American service member to be killed in an attack launched by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) jihadists in Iraq.

Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin, of Temecula, California, died Saturday in northern Iraq, from wounds sustained when ISIS attacked his unit with rocket fire, the Pentagon said, adding that the incident was under investigation.

The attack occurred at a coalition base near Makhmur, some 45 miles southeast of Mosul Iraq’s second-biggest city, which ISIS captured in June 2014.

Cardin, 27, was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The Camp Lejeune, North Carolina-based 26th MEU is deployed in the region with the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group, comprising more than 4,000 Marines and sailors.

While Cardin was the first American killed in an attack by ISIS since the launch of Operation Inherent Resolve – the mission to train, advise, and help Iraqi forces in the fight against ISIS, with the aim of defeating the group – a U.S. special forces soldier was killed last October during a joint U.S.-Kurdish raid on an ISIS prison, where dozens of prisoners who were believed to have faced execution within hours were rescued.

That soldier, Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler, was the first American killed in action in Iraq since late 2011. 

Apart from Cardin and Wheeler, 12 U.S. military personnel and one DoD civilian have died in non-combat circumstances in the region during Operation Inherent Resolve.

The U.S. currently has around 3,700 troops in Iraq as part of the mission. The first several hundred troop were deployed in mid-2014, when President Obama – two-and-a-half years after withdrawing the last U.S. forces from Iraq – said he sending troops back in, not for combat, but to “will help Iraqis as they take the fight to terrorists who threaten the Iraqi people, the region and American interests as well.”

Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a weekend statement the Marine had been killed while “providing force protection fire support at a recently established coalition fire base near Makhmur in northern Iraq.”

“Several other Marines were wounded and they are being ‎treated for their varying injuries.”

“This is the second combat death since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve, and it reminds us of the risks our men and women in uniform face every day,” Cook said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the service members involved, their families and their coalition teammates who will continue the fight against ISIL with resolve and determination.”

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow

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