Two more soldiers from the Oklahoma National Guard were killed this week in Afghanistan, bringing the total number killed there since their deployment began to 14.
Dead are Pfc. Sarina Butcher, 19, of Checotah, and Spc. Christopher Gailey, 26, of Ochelata, according to the Department of Defense.
Butcher was the first woman from the Oklahoma National Guard to die in fighting since women were allowed to join the Guard in 1971, according to a release from the Oklahoma National Guard. She was also the youngest Guard soldier to die in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Both died Monday in Paktia province when their vehicle was attacked with an improvised explosive device, according to the Defense Department.
Butcher and Gailey were assigned to Company F of the 700th Brigade Support Battalion of the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, based in Tulsa. They were on a resupply mission in the province when the bomb exploded.
Two other soldiers were wounded during the incident but are expected to recover, according to a release from the Oklahoma National Guard.
“The Oklahoma National Guard family is deeply saddened by the loss of these two outstanding citizen-soldiers,” said Maj. Gen. Myles L. Deering, Oklahoma's adjutant general. “Their commitment and willingness to serve our nation during a time of war is indicative of their tremendous character and courage. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families, friends and those that continue to serve our country in Afghanistan.”
‘Proud to be in the military'
Butcher joined the Oklahoma National Guard in April 2010 and was an automated logistical specialist, according to a release from the Guard.
“She was very proud to be in the military,” family friend Patty Brown said. “She joined the military to follow in her grandfather's and brother's footsteps.”
Butcher would stay with Brown when she came to Tulsa for weekend duty.
Despite her small stature, she had large heavy packs to carry, but she “would get out of the car and unload it all.”
“Once a month, I would get her on a Friday night so she could be here on a Saturday morning,” Brown said. “She would be awake and in there at 6 a.m. and ready to go.”
Brown also would help watch Butcher's 2-year-old daughter when she was away.
The last time she spoke to Butcher was Sunday, when Butcher asked how she was doing after her grandfather had died recently.
“She was very thoughtful, someone you could always count on,” Brown said.View/sign the guest book for Christopher Gailey View/sign the guest book for Sarina Butcher