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N.C. service members bear war losses

At least 17 Camp Lejeune Marines, Fort Bragg soldiers and a North Carolina native have been killed in the fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the past three weeks.

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CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — North Carolina-based service members are bearing the cost of fighting in southwestern Asia.

Seven Camp Lejeune-based Marines were killed in the Helmand province in southern Afghanistan this past week.

Those casualties bring to eight the number of Lejeune Marines who have died in Afghanistan since late January. At least eight Fort Bragg-based soldiers and a Hawaii-based Marine from Charlotte were also killed in Afghanistan and Pakistan during the same period.

"From all perspectives, even one loss is tragic," Marine Lt. Evan Pettyjohn said Saturday. "All of these Marines were performing their mission and died heroically."

The Lejeune Marines killed this week were taking part in a massive NATO offensive against the Taliban in Helmand, Pettyjohn said. Since the offensive began last Saturday, at least nine Marines have been killed in the Helmand province, and three Army soldiers have been killed in other parts of Afghanistan.

It's unclear if the Lejeune Marines were participating in the fighting around the town of Marjah. They were all assigned to the 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force.

Cpl. Jacob H. Turbett, 21, died Feb. 13. He was from Canton, Mich., and assigned to the 2nd Battalion.

Pfc. Jason H. Estopinal, 21, of Dallas, Ga., died Monday. He was assigned to 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion.

Private First Class Eric Currier, with the 3rd Battalion, died Wednesday. The 21-year-old was from New Hampshire.

Four more Marines died Thursday. Lance Cpl. Larry Johnson, 19, was from Pennsylvania. Private First Class Kyle Coutu, 20, was from Rhode Island. Lance Cpl. Kielin T. Dunn, 19, was from Virginia. Sgt. Jeremy R. McQueary, 27, was from Columbus, Indiana.

Johnson and McQueary served with the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, Coutu with the 3rd Battalion and Dunn with the 1st Battalion.

As well, Lance Cpl. Noah M. Pier, 25, of Charlotte, died Thursday in the Helmand province, Afghanistan. Pier was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

Pettyjohn declined to say more about the details of the Marines' deaths.


Anne Johnson, Web Editor

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