FORWARD OPERATING BASE WILSON, Afghanistan — Two U.S. paratroopers were killed and five others wounded, all from the same company, in a pair of unrelated bomb blasts Sunday.
The seven were members of the Fort Bragg, N.C.-based 82nd Airborne Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team, which arrived in August on a yearlong mission to mentor Afghan army and national police units.
Killed were Sgt. James M. Nolen, 25, of Alvin, Texas, and Pfc. Marcus A. Tynes, 19, of Moreno Valley, Calif. The military released their names late Tuesday.
The soldiers were assigned to work with Afghan security forces about 20 miles west of Kandahar near an area where insurgents control several small farming villages. There are almost daily attacks on Afghan and NATO security forces and supply convoys passing on Highway 1, the main east-west highway in the region.
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Nolen, Tynes and three of the wounded soldiers were riding in an armored Humvee on a dirt road when an unusually large improvised bomb exploded near their vehicle and ripped it apart, said soldiers who went to the scene.
Many of the paratroopers working with the Afghan police in that area use the larger and heavier MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles), which are designed to increase the chance of survival in a bomb blast. But there aren't enough for all the troops, according to soldiers with their unit and another that works closely with them, and some must use the less-protected Humvees.
The other two paratroopers were wounded by a booby trap. One stepped on a device that triggered an anti-personnel mine hidden in a wall.
The 4th Brigade has now lost eight soldiers killed in action on this deployment, said Maj. Michelle Baldanza, the brigade spokeswoman. That includes one who was swept into a river in the northwest part of the country early this month while on a routine resupply mission. His body was later recovered. Another soldier was lost in the river in the same incident and remains missing.
(Price reports for The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.)
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