Sad news emerged out of Afghanistan over the Thanksgiving weekend. 25-year-old Sgt. Leandro A.S. Jasso was killed in action on Saturday.
The Army Ranger was hit by gunfire during a mission to take out Al-Qaeda-affiliated militants in the Nimruz Province of the war-torn central Asian nation. After a review, officials said it was “likely” that Jasso was killed by friendly fire.
Jasso was quickly treated and evacuated to the nearest medical facility in Helmand Province, but later died from his wounds. He was the ninth U.S. service member to suffer such a fate this year.
“An initial review indicates Sgt. Jasso was likely accidentally shot by our Afghan partner force,” read a statement from NATO’s Operation Resolute Support. “There are no indications he was shot intentionally.”
“Early interviews indicate the tragic accident occurred when the partnered force became engaged in a close-quarter battle during an assault on one of multiple barricaded al Qaeda shooters,” the statement continued.
Counter-terrorism Army Ranger
Jasso had been serving as a team leader in Company A, 2d Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, and was based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state. This was his third combat deployment to Afghanistan.
Army Lt. Col. Rob McChrystal, Commander of the 2d Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, said, “Sgt. Jasso was a humble professional who placed the mission first, lived the Ranger Creed and will be deeply missed.”
Army Gen. Scott Miller, Commander of Operation Resolute Support and all U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, said, “The loss of Sgt. Jasso is felt by his family and loved ones, by all who served with him and by all on this mission to protect our country and our allies.”
Resolute Support is the NATO mission to advise, assist and train Afghan military and police forces. Alongside that mission is one known as Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, which is focused on conducting counter-terrorism missions in the country. There are roughly 14,000 American troops deployed to Afghanistan as part of those two operations.
Small town hero
Sgt. Jasso came from the small Washington state town of Leavenworth — population around 2,000 — and joined the military mere months after graduating high school in 2012.
One of his teachers who remembered him fondly recalled that he had told her he joined the Army because it seemed like the most beneficial option available to him, not to mention that he enjoyed traveling and meeting other people from different parts of the country and world.
His former high school principal, Elia Ala’ilima-Daley, said the death of Jasso “really hits home with us, being a small town.” The Cascade High School he had attended held a moment of silence on Monday in Jasso’s honor.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement, “Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Sgt. Leandro A.S. Jasso. He gave his life in service to our country and we are profoundly grateful for his service and sacrifice.”