BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) – The military says a 22-year-old soldier from central Illinois has been killed in Afghanistan.
The Department of Defense released a statement Friday saying Sgt. Josh Rodgers of Bloomington was among two soldiers killed this week as a result of small arms fire in Nangarhar Province, which borders Pakistan. A third soldier was wounded.
Rodgers’ family pastor, Paul Thomasson, told the Pantagraph newspaper the family was notified of his death Wednesday.
Rodgers graduated in 2013 from Normal Community High School, where he competed in track and football.
Rodgers’ track coach, Bryan Thomas, said Rodgers had a work ethic that “was second to none.” Thomas says Rodgers was a quiet athlete who led by example.
His football coach, Wes Temples, said Rodgers was brave for serving in the U.S. Army.
“Josh was a tremendous kid,” Temples said. “When I hear his name, what comes to mind is how hard he worked no matter what it was, whether it was football or school. He did things the right way.”
The military said the fatal incident is under investigation.
The U.S. military dropped the largest non-nuclear weapon used in combat on a cave-and-tunnel complex in Nangarhar earlier this month as part of the ongoing battle against the Islamic State group.
Afghan officials have said 94 militants were killed in the bombing and another 40 were killed in this week’s operation.
Nearly 2,400 U.S. military personnel have died in Afghanistan and related regions since U.S. forces entered the country in 2001.
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