The Pentagon has identified the two soldiers killed in a firefight on Tuesday in Afghanistan as Master Sgt. Micheal B. Riley, 32, from Heilbronn, Germany, and Sgt. James G. Johnston, 24, from Trumansburg, New York.
Both soldiers died from wounds they sustained from small arms fire during a Taliban attack in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan. the Pentagon said.
Few details have been made available about the incident, which is under investigation.
Their deaths are the 10th and 11th U.S. fatalities in Afghanistan this year, nine of them from hostile fire. There are still about 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan advising and assisting Afghanistan's security forces in their fight against the Taliban and an ISIS affiliate in eastern Afghanistan.
For much of this year the United States and Taliban representatives have been engaged in peace talks in Qatar, the next round of talks will begin next week.
During a visit to Afghanistan this week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed hope that a draft agreement could be reached by September that, among other things, could lead to the removal of American troops from Afghanistan. However, a major sticking point has been that Afghanistan's government has not participated in the talks, with the Taliban refusing to negotiate with Afghan leaders.
Master Sgt. Micheal B. Riley, a Green Beret serving as a communications sergeant, was assigned to 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne). He was serving on his sixth deployment to Afghanistan.
Riley joined the Army in March, 2006 and after completing basic combat training and airborne school, was assigned to the 112th Special Operations Command Europe Signal Detachment. He completed the Special Forces Qualification Course in 2012 and was assigned to 10th Special Forces Group (A).
Sgt. James Gregory Johnston , 24, from Trumansburg, New York, was assigned to 79th Ordnance Battalion (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), 71st Ordnance Group.
"Mike was an experienced Special Forces noncommissioned officer and the veteran of five previous deployments to Afghanistan," Col. Lawrence G. Ferguson, the commander of 10th SFG (A) said in a statement. "We will honor his service and sacrifice as we remain steadfast in our commitment to our mission."
His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters (4 OLC), Army Achievement Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award (OLC), Army Good Conduct Medal (3), National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with three Campaign Stars, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (3), Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (2), NATO Medal, Special Forces Tab, Ranger Tab, Combat Infantryman Badge, Military Freefall Parachutist Badge, Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Driver and Mechanic Badge, and Marine Qualification Badge Expert-Rifle.
Sgt. James Gregory Johnston, 24, from Trumansburg, New York, was assigned to 79th Ordnance Battalion (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), 71st Ordnance Group. He was on his first deployment to Afghanistan, arriving in March.
“It is with a heavy heart that we mourn the passing of Sergeant James Johnston," said Lt. Col. Stacy M. Enyeart, commander of 79th Ordnance Battalion (Explosive Ordnance Disposal). "He was the epitome of what we as Soldiers all aspire to be: intelligent, trained, always ready. We will honor his service and his sacrifice to this nation as we continue to protect others from explosive hazards around the world,”
Johnston entered active-duty military service in July 2013 as an explosive ordnance disposal specialist.
Johnston’s awards and decorations include a Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korea Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Combat Action Badge, Senior Explosive Ordnance Disposal Badge and Explosive Ordnance Badge.