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3 of 4 soldiers killed in Afghanistan blast are from Fort Bliss

By Matthew Smith
Published On: May 17 2013 10:11:28 AM CDT
Updated On: Jan 15 2014 07:52:39 PM CST

ABC-7s Matthew Smith reports.

EL PASO -

Three Fort Bliss soldiers died after an improvised explosive device attack Tuesday in Afghanistan, Fort Bliss officials said.

Fort Bliss identified two of the soldiers as 24-year-old Spc. Mitchell Kirk Daehling from Dalton, Mass.; and Spc. William Joseph Gilbert, 24, from Hacienda Heights, Calif. The name of the third soldier has not been released.

The three soldiers were assigned to Fort Bliss' 3rd Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division.

The soldiers died from injuries suffered during an attack by enemy forces using an improvised explosive device in Sanjaray, Afghanistan.

Kirk Daehling, the father of Specialist Mitchell Daehling, said he'd remember his son as someone who "just loved life... He always had a smile ... He was proud to serve his country."

Daehling leaves behind his wife, Samantha - whom he married last June - and two siblings.

William Gilbert's friends said on social media that Gilbert's wife, Monica Gilbert, was set to give birth to the couple's first child at the end of this month. They got married right before he deployed. Gilbert also studied at El Paso Community College.

Early Friday morning, Monica Gilbert shared a Facebook status telling family and friends, "To all the guys that were there with William Gilbert thank you, you guys were the last ones to see him and try to save him. I love you all and you will always have a place in my heart."

A third soldier's name, who was from Fort Bliss, has been circulating on a social media website. However, Fort Bliss officials have not identified the soldier, so ABC-7 is not reporting it.

A fourth soldier -- Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey C. Baker, 29, of Hesperia, Calif. -- was also killed in the incident. He was assigned to 766th Ordnance Company, 63rd Ordnance Battalion, 52nd Ordnance Group out of Fort Stewart, Ga.

According to Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard, the explosive device used in this most recent attack appears to have been several hundred pounds.  Pittard added that multiple IEDs may have been used in the attack.

"There is no joke about it, it is tough combat that is going on," said Pittard.

Five Fort Bliss soldiers died in a previous IED blast in Afghanistan on May 4, 2013. The five soldiers killed in that blast were 1st Lt. Brandon J. Landrum, Staff Sgt. Francis Gene Phillips IV, Spc. Kevin Cardoza, Spc. Brandon Joseph Prescott and Spc. Thomas Paige Murach. The soldiers were in the Maiwand District in Afghanistan's Kandahar Province working a mounted patrol when their vehicle was struck with an improvised explosive device. All the Soldiers were assigned to 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry, 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, which deployed from Fort Bliss in December 2012.

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