(CNSNews.com) – The Department of Defense on Wednesday identified the Green Beret killed in action in Afghanistan’s Helmand province on Tuesday, naming him as Staff Sgt. Matthew McClintock, 30, of Albuquerque, N.M.
McClintock, a soldier with the Washington National Guard attached to the 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne), died as a result of “wounds suffered when the enemy attacked his unit with small arms fire.”
According to the Pentagon, U.S. Special Forces operators involved in the action were acting in a “train, advise, assist” capacity alongside Afghan counterparts in an area where the Taliban has made significant advances in recent months.
Two other U.S. personnel and several Afghan troops were wounded in the fighting near the city of Marjah.
Initial evacuation efforts stalled after a medevac helicopter came under fire and returned to base without landing. A second helicopter landed but sustained damage to a rotor blade, apparently after striking a wall, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said on Tuesday. (The Taliban in a statement claimed its “mujahideen” had downed the helicopter as it tried to land.)
Lt. Cmdr. Ron Flesvig, a spokesman for the international mission in Afghanistan, Operation Resolute Support, said in an email early Thursday the three casualties had been evacuated from the location of the fighting, and that the helicopter had been removed.
An Afghan military official, Maj. Mohammad Rassoul Zazai, told the independent Pajhwok news agency earlier that at least 34 Taliban fighters had been killed in a joint operation by Afghan and foreign forces in the Marjah district.
A statement from the Taliban said nothing about fatalities on its side in the fighting, but claimed that its fighters had destroyed eight enemy armed personnel carriers and killed or wounded 21 “hireling troops” in Marjah.
The Pentagon said McClintock was in Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel – the U.S. component of the post-2014 mission in support of Afghanistan following the end of Operation Enduring Freedom.
According to then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in late 2014, the two missions of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel are: working with allies in the international Resolute Support mission to “train, advise, assist” Afghan security forces; and “counterterrorism operations against the remnants of al-Qaeda to ensure that Afghanistan is never again used to stage attacks against our homeland.”
McClintock, who joined the U.S. Army in 2006 deployed to Afghanistan last July.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement that his “thoughts and prayers are with Staff Sergeant McClintock’s friends and family, including his young wife and infant son. He is a true American hero who stood up to protect his state and nation.”
Washington National Guard commander Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty described McClintock as “one of the best of the best.”
“He was a Green Beret who sacrificed time away from his loved ones to train for and carry out these dangerous missions. This is a tough loss for our organization, and a harsh reminder that ensuring freedom is not free. We stand with Staff Sergeant McClintock’s family, and will provide ongoing support during the grieving and healing process.”