Four soldiers killed in action in Afghanistan; three have Fort Benning ties; Smiths Station High School graduate wounded

October 8, 2013 

Update: Cameron Smith, director of the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs, told The Oregonian that Pfc. Cody Patterson’s family hasn't received the $100,000 death gratuity sent to soldiers' relatives. Since the shutdown, officials say the Pentagon has no authority to disburse the money.

“The delayed payments to the families of fallen service members is a very unfortunate and unacceptable consequence of the federal shutdown,” Smith said.

Patterson's father, Randall, had harsher words for Congress about the delay.

“If Congress were trapped in a car that sunk down in a river, I would swim to the window, and I would look them all in the eye and say, ‘Suck water,’” he said to NBC News.

House Speaker John Boehner said the House would address the problem Wednesday and urged the Senate -- which has been hesitant to pass piecemeal funding after the shutdown, for fear of delaying a more comprehensive bill -- and the president to pass any such legislation.

Original story: Two of the four soldiers who were killed by an improvised explosive device during combat operations Sunday in Afghanistan were assigned to Fort Benning, officials said Tuesday.

Sgt. Patrick C. Hawkins, 25, and Pfc. Cody J. Patterson, 24, were assigned to Company B, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning.

First Lt. Jennifer M. Moreno, 25, assigned to Madigan Army Medical Center, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., and Special Agent Joseph M. Peters, 24, assigned to the 286th Military Police Detachment, 5th Military Police Battalion, Vicenza, Italy, also died in action.

All four service members were conducting combat operations in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.

Pfc. Michael Nolin, 20, a 2011 Smiths Station High School graduate, was among the 30 soldiers wounded in the explosion, confirmed 75th Ranger Regiment Lt. Col. Brian DeSantis.

Nolin’s father, Scott, said Michael was wounded in the left leg. He was flown to a hospital in Afghanistan for surgery, then flown to a hospital in Germany on Sunday night, where he had a second surgery Monday, the father said.

Michael is expected to make a full recovery, Scott said.

“He’s doing well,” said Scott, an insurance agency owner in Phenix City. “His physical injuries are going to heal, but it was pretty bad. I guess we’ll have to see how things work out and how these guys deal with the emotional scarring. But he’s got a lot of support from the Army and the Wounded Warrior Project and his family and local community. We’re just thankful he’s still with us and in good shape.”

Michael was Smiths Station’s starting quarterback in 2009 and 2010. He also played baseball for the school. He joined the Army in August 2012 and was deployed in August 2013.

Hawkins, Patterson, Moreno and Peters were killed on the eve of the 12th anniversary of the Oct. 7, 2001, U.S.-led invasion, which was in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America.

The four deaths bring the number of U.S. military personnel who have died during the war in Afghanistan to 2,146, according to an Associated Press count. The AP has reported the death toll from the Sept. 11 attacks as 2,975.

The following information was provided by Fort Benning:

Pfc. Cody James Patterson

Patterson was born April 12, 1989, in Corvallis, Ore. After graduating from Philomath High School, he enlisted in the U.S. Army from his hometown of Philomath, Ore., in January 2012 and completed One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning as an infantryman. After graduating from the Basic Airborne Course there, he was assigned to the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program, also at Fort Benning. Patterson graduated from the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program and was then assigned to Company B, 3rd Bn., 75th Ranger Regiment in November 2012 and served as a rifleman.

“Pfc. Cody Patterson was the poster child for the Ranger Regiment,” Ellis said. “He was courageous and dedicated and lost his life while fighting tenaciously against our nation’s enemies alongside his fellow Rangers. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Patterson family.”

This was Patterson’s second deployment to Afghanistan.

His military education includes the Basic Airborne Course and the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program. His awards and decorations include the Parachutist Badge and the U.S. Army Expert Rifle Marksmanship Qualification Badge.

Patterson also has been awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, and Overseas Service Ribbon.

“Pfc. Cody Patterson had a limitless future,” Vanek said. “He would have been successful in whatever path he had chosen in life. He chose to serve his country by volunteering for the most difficult and challenging duties of a United States Army Ranger. His loss is devastating to his fellow Rangers, our Army and our nation. Our country was fortunate that he chose to serve in our ranks. Our thoughts and prayers are with this young Ranger’s family.”

He was posthumously awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Purple Heart and NATO Medal.

Patterson is survived by his mother, Nancy R. Wilson of Corvallis, Ore., and his father, Randy L. Patterson, and his sister, Taylor, both of Philomath, Ore.

Sgt. Patrick Hawkins

Hawkins was born Oct. 1, 1988. After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Army from his hometown of Carlisle, Pa., in February 2010 and completed One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, Ga., as an infantryman. After graduating from the Basic Airborne Course there, he was assigned to the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program, also at Fort Benning. Hawkins graduated from the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program and was then assigned to Company B, 3rd Bn., 75th Ranger Regiment in September 2010 and served as a rifleman, gun team leader and Ranger team leader.

“Sgt. Patrick Hawkins was a brave and incredibly talented Ranger,” said Lt. Col. Patrick J. Ellis, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. “He was moving to the aid of a wounded Ranger when he was killed. His actions that night were in keeping with the epitome of the Ranger Creed: ‘I will never leave a fallen comrade.’ Our thoughts and prayers are with the Hawkins family during this difficult time.”

This was Hawkins’ fourth deployment to Afghanistan.

His military education includes the Basic Airborne Course, Ranger Assessment and Selection Program, U.S. Army Ranger Course, and the Warrior Leader Course. His awards and decorations include the Ranger Tab, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Parachutist Badge, and the U.S. Army Expert Rifle Marksmanship Qualification Badge.

Hawkins also has been awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two Campaign Stars, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal, and the Presidential Unit Citation.

“Sgt. Patrick Hawkins dedicated himself to serving our nation and ultimately gave his life in her defense,” said Col. Christopher S. Vanek, Commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment. “Those who knew him understood he was man of character and commitment. He excelled as a Ranger Team Leader, always leading from the front and highly respected by all of his fellow Rangers who fought with him. His loss is felt by the entire Regiment.”

He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal and Purple Heart.

Hawkins is survived by his wife, Brittanie M. Hawkins, of Lansing, Kan., and his parents, Roy and Shelia Hawkins, of Carlisle, Pa.

1st Lt. Jennifer M. Moreno

Moreno was a member of the Cultural Support Team assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, supporting a Joint Special Operations Task Force.

She was on her first deployment to Afghanistan in support of the War on Terror.

Moreno was born June 25, 1988 in San Diego and graduated from San Diego High School. She was commissioned in the U.S. Army as a Nurse Corps officer after graduating from the University of San Francisco with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. Moreno completed the U.S. Army Airborne Course in 2009 at Fort Benning and the Army Medical Department Officer Basic Course in 2010 at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

Moreno was then assigned to Madigan Army Medical Center, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., where she served as a clinical staff nurse on a medical surgical unit. She volunteered and was successfully assessed and selected into the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Cultural Support Team program and deployed in June 2013.

“Our unit mourns the loss of 1st Lt. Jennifer Moreno,” Ellis said. “She was a talented member of our team who lost her life while serving her country in one of the most dangerous environments in the world. Her bravery and self-sacrifice were in keeping with the highest traditions of the 75th Ranger Regiment. She was making a difference in Afghanistan and that legacy will live on. The Moreno family is in our thoughts and prayers.”

Her awards and decorations include the Parachutist Badge, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terror Service Medal and Army Service Ribbon.

Moreno was posthumously awarded the Combat Action Badge, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Purple Heart, Afghanistan Campaign Medal and NATO Medal.

She is survived by her mother, Marie V. Cordero, and her sisters Jearaldy Moreno and Yaritza Cordova of San Diego, Calif., and her brother, Ivan F. Moreno, who is serving in the U.S. Army.

Special Agent Joseph M. Peters

Peters was born Dec. 22, 1988. After graduating from high school in 2007, he enlisted in the U.S. Army from his hometown of Springfield, Mo. He completed Basic Combat Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and Advanced Individual Training as a Human Intelligencer Collector at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., and was assigned to the 210th Military Intelligence Company. Following this assignment, Peters was assigned to the 14th Military Intelligence Battalion. He served as a Human Intelligence Collector at both assignments.

Peters reclassified as an Army Criminal Investigations special agent and was assigned to the 286th Military Police Detachment (CID), Vicenza, Italy as a special agent with the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command.

This was his third deployment in support of the War on Terror.

“We are all deeply saddened by the death of one of our own, Special Agent Joseph Peters,” said Maj. Gen. David Quantock, the Provost Marshal General of the United States Army and Commanding General of the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command. “Special Agent Peters was a highly respected agent and soldier who sacrificed his life in the defense of this nation. We are extremely proud of his service and what he accomplished as a CID special agent and as a soldier. His death is a reminder to all of us of the unequaled contributions our military members and their families make on a daily basis in the defense of the freedoms that we all enjoy and value so dearly.”

Peters was promoted to sergeant Aug. 1, 2010.

His military education includes the Criminal Investigation Division Agent Course, Protective Services Training Course, Human Intelligence Collector Course, Joint Analyst Interrogator Collaboration Course, the Advanced Crime Scene Investigative Technician Course and the Warrior Leader Course.

His awards and decorations include the Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal 2nd Award, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with Arrow Device, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon and the Driver’s Badge.

He was posthumously awarded the Combat Action Badge, Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart.

Peters is survived by his wife and 20-month-old son.

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