Monday, July 9, 2012

Defense Department Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Spc. Jonathan Batista, 22, of Kinnelon, N.J., died July 8, in Zharay, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 321st Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Batista, who had just gotten  married, was a  2007 graduate of Rutherford High School in New Jersey.

He joined the Army in March 2010, attended airborne school at Fort Benning, Ga., and served as a mine detector operator, clearing paths for his platoon as they patrolled throughout Kandahar Province.

"Jon was a devoted son, a caring brother, a Paratooper dedicated to the safety and security of his Infantry team and a newlywed," Lt. Col. Philip Raymond, Batista's battalion commander, said in a press release. "As a soldier, he represented the qualities and values that make our nation great."

"Their safety was his priority," said Raymond, speaking of Batista's devotion to helping protect the other soldiers in his unit. "His courage bolstered theirs and endeared him to his platoon.”

This was his first deployment to Afghanistan.

Batista’s awards include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, Army Achievement Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, NATO medal, Combat Infantry Badge and Parachutist Badge.

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