A former U.S. Army Ranger from Hall County, Maj. Kevin M. Jenrette, was one of three Georgia soldiers who were killed in action Thursday while serving in Afghanistan.
Jenrette, 37, and two other soldiers — Staff Sgt. John C. Beale, 39, of Riverdale, and Spc. Jeffrey W. Jordan, 21, of Rome — died from wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device and small arms fire near Kapisa, Afghanistan, said Lt. Col. Ken Baldowski, state public affairs officer for the Georgia National Guard.
A fourth soldier, who was not identified, was injured in the attack.
The three men were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 108th Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition Squadron, 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team with the Georgia National Guard in Calhoun.
The men had been in Afghanistan for approximately three weeks at the time of the attack, Baldowski said.
Kapisa province is near Bagram Air Base, home to thousands of troops and the U.S. Command. It is considered a stronghold of insurgents loyal to Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
Jenrette’s unit was the first to deploy from the Georgia National Guard. The three deaths are the first for Georgia guardsmen since its troops entered Afghanistan in Operation Enduring Freedom, Baldowski said.
“We certainly hope they’re the last,” Baldowski said.
Maj. Gen. Terry Nesbitt, Georgia’s Adjutant General, said the three deaths were “traumatic” to the National Guard family.
“Their deaths, occurring so early in the deployment of the 48th Brigade, underscores the very real challenges facing our soldiers and the inherent risks of the mission,” Nesbitt said in a statement.
Gov. Sonny Perdue also issued a statement Friday that the deaths were a sobering reminder of the dangers soldiers face daily.
“These men and women go where they are asked on a moment’s notice, leaving behind families and communities that miss them dearly,” Perdue said.
Jenrette, of Lula, was married and had three young children, said his father, U.S. Army Col. Albert Jenrette.
Alvin Burns, pastor of Timber Ridge Baptist Church where the Jenrette family attended, said Jenrette was “just a terrific fella.”
“I mean, one of the best. My opinion, you ask me, I’m honest with you. I don’t know a better person than Kevin. He was exceptional,” said Burns, who has known the family for about three years.
Albert Jenrette said there were many people in the community who felt the way Burns did about his son.
“So many people thought so much of him and there’s a lot of people reaching out to us and to his family,” Albert Jenrette said. “We’ve gotten wonderful support.”
The 48th brigade of the Georgia National Guard will have roughly 2,000 guardsmen deploy to Afghanistan over the next several weeks, Baldowski said.
The family had not completed funeral arrangements as of Friday.
The Associated Press contributed to this story