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Widow, son remember first soldier killed in Afghanistan war

Posted December 8, 2014
Updated January 12, 2015

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— In the past 13 years, 2,214 troops died in Afghanistan and another 20,000 were wounded as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Chief Warrant Officer Stanley Harriman, of Cumberland County, was the first American casualty of Operation Anaconda, which began in March 2002. WRAL News spoke with his widow 12 years ago and again on Monday. Despite her loss, she challenged the nation to continue the fight against terrorism.

“He was ready to go on any mission the military sent him on, and he was proud to serve our country. So it doesn’t change the fact that Stan is a hero,” said Sheila Harriman-Reid.

Harriman-Reid was a mother of two young children when she got word that her husband was killed on March 2, 2002.

The Army initially told her that her husband had been killed in an Al-Qaeda-led attack. Officials later changed the story, saying that U.S. aircraft providing cover for ground troops at night mistook his convoy for Al-Qaeda and attacked.

It took a meeting with President Bush to help her move on with her life.

‘(Bush) said, ‘I sent those men into battle. I sent our troops there.’ He said, ‘I take full responsibility,’ and that meant everything to me … everything to me,” Harriman-Reid said.

The loss has been tough on the entire family. Harriman's son was just 3 years old when his father died. He's now a junior at Cape Fear High School in ROTC and is thinking about following in his father's military footsteps.

“Right now I’m kind of pondering back and forth between a couple different job options, but the military option is still on the table,” said Stanley Harriman.

As some of the last troops return from Afghanistan, the family of the fallen hero once again asks the nation never to forget the price of freedom.

“Don’t let Stan’s death be in vain,” his wife said.

The last wave of Fort Bragg paratroopers was expected to return home Monday night. About 100 returned Friday. Monday night’s return brings Operation Enduring Freedom to a historic close.


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  • Paul M Dec 9, 2014

    He looks just like his daddy

  • stevemitchell1151 Dec 8, 2014

    For all those in our Gold Star family, utmost respect and prayers continue for you and your hero.

  • USMC Vet Dec 8, 2014

    Prayers for the loved ones of all those lost in these battles against terrorism throughout the world.

  • Jim Frei Dec 8, 2014
    user avatar

    Mike Spann of the CIA was the first American killed in a military action in Afghanistan.