One of the three U.S. soldiers killed over the weekend in a joint U.S.-Afghan military operation in Nangarhar province has been identified as a Barstow man.
Sgt. William M. Bays, 29, was fatally shot Saturday in Peka Valley during Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. Sgt. Eric Houck, 25, of Baltimore, Maryland, and Cpl. Dillon C. Baldridge, 22, of Youngsville, North Carolina, were also killed in the attack, the Defense Department said Monday in a news release.
The service members were fatally shot in an “apparent insider attack,” also known as a “green-on-blue” incident because of the color-coding system used by NATO, officials said.
“Today, as we grieve, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of Cpl. Baldridge, Sgt. Houck and Sgt. Bays. We take this as a family loss,” Maj. General Andrew Poppas, commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Fort Campbell, said in a news release Monday. “In the days ahead, the 101st Soldiers and Rakkasans will continue the fight against terrorism with unbridled determination. Our soldiers are battle-hardened and committed to the defense of our nation and the freedom for which we fight.”
In addition to the three fallen service members, who were assigned to the 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, another soldier was wounded in the attack. The soldiers, part of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team “Rakkasans,” were deployed in the fall of 2016, officials said.
Bays joined the Army in August 2009 and arrived at Fort Campbell in August 2014.
The deadly incident remains under investigation.