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Fort Benning Ranger dies in Afghanistan

A Fort Benning Ranger died over the weekend from wounds received during combat, the U.S. Department of Defense said.

Sgt. Anibal Santiago, 37, of Belvidere, Ill., was injured Saturday when he fell in Khowst Province, Afghanistan. He died on Sunday from those injuries, the defense department said.

Santiago was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.

“I wish the American public had an opportunity to know Sgt. Santiago,” said Col. Michael E. Kurilla, commander with the 75th Ranger Regiment, in a release. “He embodied the Ranger ethos — an American patriot, incredibly lethal sniper and was always at his best when conditions were the worst. He is a hero to our nation, the 75th Ranger Regiment, and his family.”

Santiago was on his third deployment. Previously, he had been deployed to Iraq and to Afghanistan, the defense department said.

Santiago was a police officer in Chicago before enlisting in the Navy in October 2001. He joined the Army in October 2007.

After completing the One Station Unit Training, he was assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment and served as a sniper and sniper team leader.

“Sgt. Santiago was a rock of a man that everyone — his fellow Rangers and his family — relied on in the toughest of times,” said Col. Dan Walrath, commander with the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. “He was an incredible servant to the nation as a policeman, Navy sailor and Army Ranger. We are eternally grateful for what he gave us all in life.”

Santiago completed military courses in the Army including Combatives Level One, the Combat Life Savers Course, the Sniper Course, the Airborne Course, the Ranger Indoctrination Program and the U.S. Army Ranger Course.

Santiago’s awards and decorations include the Ranger Tab, the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Parachutist Badge.

He also was awarded the Army Commendation Medal, the Navy Unit Commendation Medal, the Navy Good Conduct Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, The South West Asia Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, the Iraq Campaign Medal with Campaign Star and the Army Service Ribbon.

Santiago was recommended posthumously for the Bronze Star Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal.

Santiago is survived by his wife, son and parents.