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AP
Compsite shows the 30 troops killed in the downing of the helicopter in Afghanistan.
NBC News and news services
updated 8/12/2011 7:54:54 AM ET 2011-08-12T11:54:54

The Pentagon on Thursday released the names of the 30 Americans who were killed last weekend when a rocket-propelled grenade fired by a Taliban insurgent downed their Chinook helicopter en route to a combat mission.

According to officials, the team included 17 SEALs, five Navy special operations troops who support the SEALs, three Air Force airmen, a five-member Army air crew and a military dog, along with seven Afghan commandos and an Afghan interpreter. All perished.

The crash of the Chinook CH-47, about 60 miles southwest of Kabul, was the deadliest single loss for U.S. forces in the nearly 10-year Afghan war.

U.S. military officials told NBC News that the notification process was complete early this week, but Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta — at the request of the Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command — agreed to delay the release of the names.

Here are the names of the fallen American servicemen, and some of their stories:

Lt. Cmdr. (SEAL) Jonas B. Kelsall, 32, of Shreveport, La., Special Warfare Operator, Naval Special Warfare unit;

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Robert J. Reeves, 32, of Shreveport, La., Naval Special Warfare unit;

Reeves and Kelsall had been childhood friends in Shreveport, La., where they played soccer together and graduated from Caddo Magnet High School, Kelsall's father, John, told The Shreveport Times and KLSA-TV.

Both joined the military after graduation, though Reeves spent a year at Louisiana State University first, his father, Jim Reeves, told the newspaper.

Reeves became a SEAL in 1999 and served on SEAL Team 6, his father said. During his many deployments, he earned four Bronze Stars and other honors.

Kelsall was one of the first members of SEAL Team 7, his father said.

He trained in San Diego and met his wife of three years, Victoria, when he was attending the University of Texas out of Basic Underwater Demolition training, his father said.

Reeves placed several American flags outside his home and his neighbors joined in, many decorating their homes in red, white and blue in support of the families.

Story: Afghanistan crash highlights role of US elite forces

Master Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Louis J. Langlais, 44, of Santa Barbara, Calif., Naval Special Warfare unit;

Langlais was originally from Santa Barbara, Calif., but lived in Virginia with his wife and two sons.

He was thrust into the national spotlight in April 1997 when he attempted to parachute into Pro Player Stadium dressed as the mascot of the Florida Marlins, the Virginian-Pilot reported. Winds tore off the costume and Langlais landed outside while someone else took his place inside, the paper reported.

Langlais enlisted in the Navy in June 1986. In 1989, he reported to SEAL training in Coronado, Calif., and reported to a West Coast-based SEAL team until 1997. He was on the Navy parachute team until February 2000 and later joined several East Coast-based SEAL teams.

Langlais won numerous medals and commendations for his service and was remembered by countless friends in an outpouring of support on Facebook.

Special Warfare Operator Senior Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Thomas A. Ratzlaff, 34, of Green Forest, Ark., Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician, Naval Special Warfare unit;

Ratzlaff wanted to be a Navy SEAL ever since he was a young boy.

"He did what he loved and died defending those he loved and those who loved him," his nephew, Jeff Adams, said as he read a statement from the family.

When Ratzlaff visited his hometown in northwest Arkansas, his late father would bring him by the log cabin restaurant where he ordered an egg, sausage and wheat toast every morning.

"The whole town was proud of him," said Loree Blackburn, who runs that restaurant.

Now, the community of 2,700 remembers Ratzlaff with flags flying at half-staff.

Ratzlaff would have been grateful for the outpouring of support for his family, his nephew said. But he "would want the focus to remain on the cause for which he made the sacrifice, not the sacrifice itself."

He had two sons and a wife expecting their third child — a girl — in November. He also leaves behind a sister and mother.

"As a Navy SEAL team member, my uncle was trained to keep a low profile and to do his job," Adams said.

Story: Afghan witnesses describe deadly Chinook crash

Senior Chief Petty Officer (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist) Kraig M. Vickers, 36, of Kokomo, Hawaii, Naval Special Warfare unit;

When he was a Maui High School football player, no one could match Vickers' intensity on the field.

But off the field? "You couldn't find a nicer guy," his former coach remembers.

"He played middle linebacker, so he was really smart, the quarterback of the defense; and when he put on his helmet, no one could match his intensity and aggressiveness," coach Curtis Lee told the Maui News.

Vickers, who would have turned 37 on Thursday, graduated from high school in 1992 and attended Evangel College in Missouri on a football scholarship. "He decided college wasn't for him," and returned home, his father, Robert Vickers, said. After stints in tree trimming and working as a hotel security guard, he became a certified scuba diver and decided to join the Navy in 1996.

He lived in Virginia Beach, Va., with his wife Nani, who is seven months' pregnant with their third child. Robert Vickers said she is making plans to return to Hawaii because she only has a small window of time before doctors won't allow her to fly.

"He wanted to be buried near the ocean," his father said, adding that the family is awaiting details on when the body will arrive on Maui.

Story: Pentagon: Five US troops killed in Afghanistan

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Brian R. Bill, 31, of Stamford, Conn., Naval Special Warfare unit;

Bill had plans for when he finished his military service. He wanted to return to graduate school and hoped one day to become an astronaut.

For those who knew him, such lofty goals were not out of reach.

"He set his standards high. He was that kind of person," Kimberly Hess, a friend who graduated with him in 2001 from Vermont's Norwich University, told The Advocate newspaper. "He was remarkably gifted and very thoughtful. There wasn't anything he wouldn't do for you no matter the time or day."

Diane Warzoha, who had Bill as a student at Trinity Catholic High School in Stamford, said it was no surprise that he fulfilled his goal of joining the SEALs.

"Brian just wanted to do his best, to protect other people ... Challenge did not deter him, ever."

Interactive: The cost of war (on this page)

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) John W. Faas, 31, of Minneapolis, Minn., Naval Special Warfare unit;

Top of his class. Quarterback. Team captain.

Faas' football coach had encouraged the natural-born leader to consider applying to a service academy to become a military officer, but Faas had decided in middle school that he wanted to become a Navy SEAL.

Faas wavered about his goal, joining the elite fighting force and becoming a chief petty officer.

"This is where John felt he was called," said Ron Monson, the football coach at Minnehaha Academy, a private Christian school in Minneapolis where Faas graduated as the 1998 class valedictorian.

The coach said Faas never showed bravado and didn't fit the Hollywood stereotype of a SEAL. Instead, the son of Gretchen and Robert Faas of Minneapolis, was the guy who always stood up for his fellow students.

"John was a man of unquestionable integrity and courage, as were those he served with," his family said in a statement. "He became a SEAL to serve his country and to make the world a better place for those less fortunate."

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Kevin A. Houston, 35, of West Hyannisport, Mass., Naval Special Warfare unit;

Houston's mother says he was born to be a SEAL.

"If he could do it all over again and have a choice to have it happen the way it did, or instead work at McDonald's and live to be 104? No. He'd do it all over again," Jan Brown told the Cape Cod Times.

Brown brought up her son in Hyannis, Mass., as a single mother.

Christopher Kelly, whose daughter was a friend of Houston, became the young man's mentor and father figure. Kelly, a Vietnam veteran, says Houston would always make time to visit Cape Cod when he had leave even though he made his home in Chesapeake, Va., with his wife and three children.

He was a football captain at Barnstable High School and joined the Navy not long after he graduated in 1994. He became a SEAL in 1999.

His boyhood friend, Joe Kennedy of Osterville, Mass., told the newspaper that Kevin told him the day they met in elementary school that he was going to be a Navy SEAL. "I had no idea what that was," Kennedy said.

Kennedy said friends on the Cape are planning a memorial service for him. Family and friends also held a service Thursday in Chesapeake.

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Matthew D. Mason, 37, of Kansas City, Mo., Naval Special Warfare unit;

A severe arm injury during fighting in Fallujah in 2004 didn't keep Mason off the Iraq War battlefield. Nor did it dull the competitive fire of the avid runner and former high school athlete from outside Kansas City.

Within five months of losing part of his left arm, absorbing shrapnel and suffering a collapsed lung, Mason competed in a triathlon. He soon returned to his SEAL unit.

"He could have gotten out of combat," said family friend Elizabeth Frogge. "He just insisted on going back."

Mason, the father of two toddler sons, grew up in Holt, Mo., and played football and baseball at Kearney High School. He graduated from Northwest Missouri State University in 1998. His wife, who is expecting their third child — another boy — also attended Northwest Missouri.

Mason returned to Missouri in May to compete in a Kansas City triathlon, and took his family to Walt Disney World for the first time this summer, Frogge said.

"He loved doing what he did," she said. "He was the type of guy who thought he was invincible."

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Stephen M. Mills, 35, of Fort Worth, Texas, Naval Special Warfare unit;

Mills was originally from Arlington, Texas, and graduated from Martin High School, KDFW TV reported.

The station cited people close to Mills as saying he was the leader of the 22-member SEAL Team 6 troop. SEAL Team 6 carried out the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, but none of the members of that mission were killed in the helicopter attack.

Mills leaves behind three children and his wife, KDFW said.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Chief Petty Officer (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist/Diver) Nicholas H. Null, 30, of Washington, W.Va., Naval Special Warfare unit;

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Heath M. Robinson, 34, of Detroit, Mich., Naval Special Warfare unit;

Before he even graduated from Michigan's Petoskey High about 225 miles northwest of Detroit, Robinson was the type of guy people could picture becoming a Navy SEAL.

"He was hardworking, dedicated and loyal," athletic director Gary Hice told the Detroit Free Press. "And those are all attributes for a Navy SEAL. He was a nice young man."

Robinson joined the military after high school, according to the Petoskey News-Review, and his service record shows he served in six Special Warfare Units from 2000 to 2011.

Robinson's father declined to comment about his son's death when reached by The Associated Press.

Petoskey Principal Jim Kanine said Robinson and his family would be remembered in prayers.

"We understand that's the ultimate sacrifice a human being can make," Kanine said.

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Darrik C. Benson, 28, of Angwin, Calif., Naval Special Warfare unit;

Before he became a U.S. Navy SEAL, Benson was known as a good student and an all-around nice kid in the small town in California's Napa Valley where he grew up.

At the end of his latest tour of duty next month, he planned to marry his girlfriend, Kara, and spend time with his 2-year-old son, Landon.

"She's very broken up about this," Benson's mother, Claudia Benson, told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

Benson had recently earned his commercial pilot's license to possibly fly airplanes after his military service ended.

Linda Hansel, who taught Benson in eighth grade, remembered him as bright, outgoing and just a touch mischievous.

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL/Parachutist) Christopher G. Campbell, 36, of Jacksonville, N.C., Naval Special Warfare unit;

Campbell may have been physically slight, but family and friends said the Navy SEAL was always ready to take on a challenge.

His mother, Diane Campbell, told The Daily News of Jacksonville she remembered him and his older brother learning to ride a unicycle brought back from Okinawa as one example of her son's determination.

"If Chris thought he could, he would try," Diane Campbell said.

Former high school football coach Jack Baile remembered Campbell, 36, showing he was up to a test when he tried out for the team as a smallish junior at about 5 foot-7 and 140 pounds.

"When kids come out for football for the first time, the first thing you're worried about is, are they going to like to be hit, or want to be hit, and like to hit. That was not a problem with Chris. He had no fear with that," Baile told The Associated Press.

"I remember hearing for the first time when he had joined the SEALS, I thought that kind of fits Chris. He didn't have a lot of fear of things and I think he always wanted to try to prove to somebody that he could do things. He was an adventurous-type guy."

Campbell's work frequently sent him on missions out of the country, and his family asked few questions when he showed up with a full beard or arrived for a visit that could only last three hours. In an email to his daughter Samantha sent days before the crash, he wrote that he was looking forward to coming home in November and celebrating her 15th birthday in January.

Chris Campbell told his family that if he was killed in the line of duty, he wanted the local newspaper to write about his life and death, with a request for donations in his memory to the Wounded Warrior Project. The project helps wounded service members recover from their war injuries.

Information Systems Technician Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist) Jared W. Day, 28, of Taylorsville, Utah, Naval Special Warfare unit;

Day grew up in the Salt Lake City area and joined the Navy in 2002 "because he loved his country, the people who live here, and the freedoms we all have," his family said.

He had participated in multiple missions around the world, a family statement said.

"He was truly special, not only to our family, but to this country," his family said. "Jared's memory will live in our hearts forever."

His family also described him as being "determined with a fierce sense of humor."

Day rose to become an elite member of the Naval Special Warfare Development Group where he served as tactical commander.

Day's family attended a ceremony for the soldiers earlier this week at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where they were given a few minutes with President Barack Obama.


Master-at-Arms Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist) John Douangdara, 26, of South Sioux City, Neb., Naval Special Warfare unit;

Douangdara told his family very little about his duties in the military. They didn't even know he took part in operations with the Navy SEALs.

But his mother, Sengchanh Douangdara, said it was clear her son was committed to the military and proud to serve the country that adopted his Laotian family decades ago. Douangdara was Naval Special Warfare personnel, who support the SEALs.

"I know that he loved his job. It was a job he chose," she told the Sioux City Journal.

She recalled her son as "the middle child, very quiet."

Douangdara's parents fled communist forces in their native Laos in 1979, then immigrated to the United States after the birth of their first child. John was born four years later, the third of five children his parents would raise in South Sioux City, a Missouri River town along the border with Iowa.

The oldest child, Chan Follen, said her family's sadness is tempered by pride in Douangdara's service to the U.S.

"We are proud Johnny fought for the country that embraced our family and gave us the opportunity to reach for the American dream," Follen said.

Cryptologist Technician (Collection) Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist) Michael J. Strange, 25, of Philadelphia, Pa., Naval Special Warfare unit;

If someone was sad, Strange tried to make them smile. He loved snowboarding, surfing, scuba diving, running, and shooting guns on the range.

"He loved his friends, his family, his country; he loved making people laugh. He was one of a kind," Strange's brother, Charles Strange III, said outside the family's Philadelphia home, where American flags were planted throughout the neighborhood.

Strange decided to join the military when he was still in high school, and had been in the Navy for about six years, first stationed in Hawaii and for the last two in Virginia Beach, where he became a SEAL about two years ago, his mother, Elizabeth Strange, told The Associated Press.

But he always told his family not to worry.

"He wasn't supposed to die this young. He was supposed to be safe," Elizabeth Strange said. "And he told me that, and I believed him. I shouldn't have believed him because I know better. He would say, 'Mom, don't be ridiculous and worry so much. I'm safe.'"

Charles Strange said his brother loved the SEALS, especially "the competitiveness, getting in shape and running and swimming and all of that."

He also had two sisters and recently became an uncle. The family last saw him in June, when he came for a weeklong visit for his birthday, his mother said. He was supposed to be back for Thanksgiving.

"It was going to be such a good time," his mother said.

His grandmother Bernice Strange remembered him as a young man who loved cheesesteaks and the Philadelphia Eagles and always brought her flowers.

"He was a wonderful grandson to have," she said Monday night. "God truly blessed me with him."

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL/Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist) Jon T. Tumilson, 35, of Rockford, Iowa, Naval Special Warfare unit;

Tumilson got an early start on his preparation to join the SEALS. He had been a wrestler in high school and competed in marathons and triathlons.

Neighbors remembered the Rockford, Iowa, man as a warrior committed to the SEALs, no matter the pain he endured in training or the risks he ran on each mission.

"When he did something, he put his all into it," Jan Stowe, a neighbor of the Tumilsons for more than 30 years, told the Des Moines Register.

Tumilson, who was 35 when he died, "was going to be a Navy SEAL since I can't remember when," Stowe said. "He's like a hero to everyone here."

Another neighbor, Mark Biggs, said people were shocked by his death.

"You just never thought it would happen to Jon," Biggs told the Mason City Globe Gazette. "He's done so many dangerous things."

Friend Justin Schriever remembered Tumilson as "a die-hard at everything. He'd always go the extra mile on everything. He wouldn't let anything stop him from accomplishing something."

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Aaron C. Vaughn, 30, of Stuart, Fla., Naval Special Warfare unit;

Vaughn was a man of deep faith, insisting to his family that he didn't fear his job as a Navy SEAL "because he knew where he was going" when he died.

"Aaron was a Christian and he's with Jesus today," Geneva Vaughn of Union City, Tenn., told The Associated Press on Saturday. "He told us when we saw him last November that he wasn't afraid ... he said, 'Granny, don't worry about me.'"

"He was a tough warrior, but he was a gentle man."
Story: Navy SEAL’s widow: ‘We were blessed to be together’

Geneva Vaughn said her grandson joined the SEALS straight out of boot camp and was already a decorated fighter when he was asked by the Navy to return stateside to become an instructor. But he applied to SEAL Team 6 after two years, earning his way onto the squad in 2010.

He asked the military to return him to combat and shipped out just six weeks before he was killed, Vaughn said.

"He was doing what he loved to do and he was a true warrior," Geneva Vaughn said.

Aaron Vaughn leaves behind his wife, Kimberly, and two children, 2-year-old son Reagan and 2-month-old daughter Chamberlyn.

"They will take away his love for Christ. They will take his dream and his love for the country, and they will know what an amazing man he is," Kimberly said about the children in an interview on NBC's "Today" show Monday.

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Jason R. Workman, 32, of Blanding, Utah, Naval Special Warfare unit;

Workman had his sights set on becoming a SEAL as a young teenager. He was about 14 when his older brother graduated from West Point. That's when he knew he wanted to be an elite soldier, friend Tate Bennett told The Deseret News. Then came the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and Workman's calling grew even stronger.

"He didn't become a Navy SEAL by chance," Bennett said. "He knew that's what he wanted at a young age and made it happen."

After returning from his Mormon mission, Bennett said, Workman went to Southern Utah University and later joined the Navy.

Across his small hometown of Blanding in southern Utah, flags were flown at half-staff as residents mourned the loss of one of their own.

Even as a SEAL, Workman came home periodically. During his last trip, he led training sessions with local law enforcement, sharing his military skills, and planned to provide more training during a trip home this fall, Mayor Toni Turk told the Salt Lake City Tribune.

"He fulfilled his dream and his ambition," he said.

Workman had a wife and a 21-month-old son.


Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Jesse D. Pittman, 27, of Ukiah, Calif., Naval Special Warfare;

Pittman made it known he wanted to become a SEAL during his second summer working as a seasonal firefighter for California's forestry department. He trained in his off-time with an ex-SEAL to prepare.

He was a hard worker who shared a love of hotrods with his father and older brother, and he did odd jobs at an automotive repair shop in his hometown of Willits, Calif., to learn how to build and repair cars.

Despite being a leader on his fire crew and having a good career ahead of him as a firefighter, Pittman made it clear becoming a SEAL was his passion.

"He liked to be challenged, and I think that challenge is what drew him to both of those careers," his friend Chris Wilkes told the San Francisco Chronicle. "When he told me he wanted to be a Navy SEAL, I told him he had been watching too much TV. But he said, 'No, I can do that.'"

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 2nd Class (SEAL) Nicholas P. Spehar, 24, of Saint Paul, Minn., Naval Special Warfare;

When Spehar said he was going to do something, you could take him at his word.

The 2005 graduate of Chisago Lakes High School was a "quiet leader," a star in academics and three sports during his time at the school along Minnesota's eastern border, said Principal Dave Ertl.

"Nick was an active young man, and if he said he was going to do something, he did it," Ertl said. "I could see him as a Navy SEAL and giving 110 percent to serve his country."

Younger brother Luke Spehar told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis that the family does not want to talk about Nick, the second of five children, until after his funeral. "We need time," he said.

Craig Swanberg, 46, of Chisago City, a town of about 4,700, said the Spehar kids played football with his own children.

"The whole family is a down-to-earth group ... nice, everyday, salt-of-the-earth people," Swanberg said. "Nick was a big kid, a powerlifter, who was not as soft spoken as his brothers."

Ertl said Spehar played football and baseball for Chisago Lakes, starred on the swimming team and was an academic letter winner.

"He gave 100 percent in high school," Ertl said. "And he gave 100 percent to our country."

Chief Warrant Officer David R. Carter, 47, of Centennial, Colo.  He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), Aurora, Colo., U.S. Army;

Carter was a man of faith who was "somebody you could count on."

Yolanda Levesque, a neighbor speaking for the pilot's family, called Carter an outstanding father, "a true Christian" and a patriot.

"He was our American hero," Levesque said, struggling to keep her composure while reading from a statement at a news conference Tuesday.

Carter was a chief warrant officer 4, a full-time Army National Guardsman and an instructor pilot. He was a skilled aviator with more than 700 hours of combat flying time, said Army Guard Col. Chris Petty.

Carter was one of two pilots flying the Chinook CH-47D on Saturday when it was apparently shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade fired by an insurgent.

He had a passion for training young aviators, Petty said, and leaves behind "much more than dozens" of new pilots he taught.

"There's a big hole in our organization today," Petty said.

Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards said Carter was "somebody you could count on."

"Every time you needed a launch, a helicopter for a state mission, Dave Carter was there," Edwards said.

Carter, of the Denver suburb of Aurora, is survived by his wife, Laura, and two children, Kyle and Kaitlen.

Carter's sister-in-law Marie Krizanovic described him as a "gentle-souled person."

"Happy-go-lucky, gentle-natured," Krizanovic said. "He had a very strong spiritual faith. He loved flying."

David and Laura Carter were set to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary in December.

Chief Warrant Officer Bryan J. Nichols, 31, of Hays, Kan.  He was assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), New Century, Kan., U.S. Army;

Nichols was eager to get back to flying after a stint handling paperwork as a unit administrator. So when the word went out that people were needed to train for a mobilization, Nichols volunteered.

Lt. Col. Richard Sherman, former commander of Nichols' unit, said one of his favorite memories is flying a pace car with Nichols to the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.

"My happiest and saddest memories are now tied to him," said Sherman, who was in command and working as an instructional pilot when Nichols joined his unit.

"He had no enemies. He was one everyone wanted to be around. You just liked flying with him because you knew he was going to improve as a young pilot and get better every time you flew with him.

Sgt. Patrick D. Hamburger, 30, of Lincoln, Neb.  He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), Grand Island, Neb., U.S. Army;

Hamburger planned to propose to his girlfriend, but had a job to do first: a mission in Afghanistan.

He joined the Nebraska National Guard when he was a senior at Lincoln Southeast High School, but this was his first deployment, his brother Chris Hamburger told The Associated Press.

"He didn't have to go, and he wanted to go because his group was getting deployed. He wanted to be there for them. That's him for you," Chris Hamburger said, adding that Patrick always looked out for his two younger brothers and friends.

He was also the kind of guy who helped his girlfriend raise her 13-year-old daughter from another relationship, as well as the couple's own 2-year-old daughter, and planned to propose marriage when he got home, Chris Hamburger said.

Patrick Hamburger had been in Afghanistan less than two weeks and had arrived at Forward Operating Base Shank a few days before climbing aboard the helicopter to rush to the aid of an Army Ranger unit under fire from insurgents.

"It doesn't come as a total surprise that he was trying to help people and that's how it all ended up happening," Chris Hamburger said.

Sgt. Alexander J. Bennett, 24, of Tacoma, Wash.  He was assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), New Century, Kan., U.S. Army;

Bennett couldn't wait to deploy again after returning from spending a year in Iraq in 2009. So the reservist moved on his own from the Tacoma, Wash., area to Overland Park, Kan., to join Bravo Company.

"He wanted to be part of our unit when it deployed," said Sherman. "He was a typical young kid and liked to go out and have a good time with the guys."

Spc. Spencer C. Duncan, 21, of Olathe, Kan.  He was assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), New Century, Kan., U.S. Army;

Duncan had written to friends about how much he loved working as a door gunner on a Chinook helicopter. But The Kansas City Star reported that he also told friends that he missed Kansas sunsets and lying in a truck bed listening to the radio and cuddling with his sweetie.

He joined the military in 2008 and had been in Afghanistan since late May.

Story: Family, friends remember fallen troops as heroes

Tech. Sgt. John W. Brown, 33, of Tallahassee, Fla., U.S. Air Force;

If Elizabeth Newlun wanted to have a serious conversation with her son, Brown, she had to shoot baskets with him.

"There's nothing athletic about me, but I realized that you have to get into other people's comfort zone to get information," said Newlun, of Rogers, Ark., explaining that her son, an Air Force technical sergeant, was a "gentle giant" who "just loved anything physical, anything athletic."

Newlun said her son played football and basketball in high school and went to John Brown University on a swimming scholarship. He had wanted to go into the medical field and become a nurse anesthetist, but decided to join the military after seeing a video of a special tactical unit, she said.

The airman was a paramedic and ready to attend to the medical needs of anyone who was rescued, his mother said.

Arkansas state Rep. Jon Woods went to high school with Brown in Siloam Springs and remembered playing basketball and watching "Saturday Night Live" on the weekends.

"When you think of what the ideal model of a soldier would be, he would be it," said Woods. "He could run all day."

Staff Sgt. Andrew W. Harvell, 26, of Long Beach, Calif., U.S. Air Force;

Harvell, originally from Long Beach, Calif., lived in Southern Pines, N.C., with his wife, according to the Fayetteville Observer.

Harvell was assigned to the 24th Special Tactics Squadron at nearby Pope Field, where a private memorial was held Thursday.

While not as prominent as the elite SEALs, the unit that Brown belonged to is also renowned for its rigor and skill.

Hand-picked after joining the Air Force, candidates for the Special Tactics Squadron must successfully complete three years of arduous training before they can be assigned to a unit, according to retired Air Force Col. John Carney.

"Out of 100 people who go into that rigorous training, maybe 10 of them will make it out," said Carney, who is credited with creating the special tactics units in the 1980s.

Tech. Sgt. Daniel L. Zerbe, 28, of York, Pa., U.S. Air Force.

Friends of Zerbe remembered him as driven but funny and easy to get along with.

Zerbe, a 2001 graduate of Red Lion Area High School in central Pennsylvania, did not say much about his Air Force duties, former schoolmate Jean Martin told The York Dispatch.

"He could make you laugh no matter what," said Martin, who dated him after high school.
John Smeltzer, a friend of Zerbe's, recalled playing football together starting in junior high, as well as fishing, snowboarding and engaging in other outdoor pursuits.

Martin said Zerbe wasn't the biggest player on the football or wrestling teams, but he worked hard to achieve his goals.

When Smeltzer last spoke with him in June, they talked about life and the birth of Smeltzer's daughter. He has struggled to come to terms with his friend's death.

"You wouldn't think this is going to come," he said.

The Associated Press left messages for Zerbe's relatives.

The Associated Press, Reuters and NBC News contributed to this report.

Video: Pentagon releases names of troops killed in chopper

Interactive: The cost of war

  1. Above: Interactive The cost of war
  2. US Marine Sergent John Cox of 1st Combat
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    Data Timeline: The war in Afghanistan

Photos: 2013

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  1. Afghan youths light candles in front of the destroyed palace of Darul Aman to mark the killing of civilians by the communist regime during the Russian occupation, in Kabul on Sept. 29, 2013. Afghanistan held two days of mourning to mark the deaths of 5,000 people killed under the communist regime in 1970s. (Massoud Hossaini / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. NATO soldiers take cover behind an armored vehicle as they defuse explosive materials recovered during an operation in Ghazni, on Sept. 20. (Naweed Haqjoo / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Miners carry the body of one of their colleagues following a mine collapse in Ruyi Du Ab district on Sept. 16. The coal mine in a remote area of Samangan province caved in after a gas explosion on Sept. 14, and at least 28 miners were confirmed dead, officials said. (Farshad Usyan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. A boy runs on Sept. 15 near a massive compound that ex-jihadist warlord Haji Mohammad Almas Zahid is building in the fields of Parwan province. The complex is known to villagers as "The Palace." (Wakil Kohsar / for NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Afghan security officials take positions during a gunbattle with suspected militants outside the US consulate in Herat on Sept. 13. Taliban militants claimed responsibility for the attack. (Jalil Rezayee / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Soccer fans celebrate after Afghanistan's national team won the South Asian Football Federation championship, in Kabul on Sept. 12. President Hamid Karzai embraced Afghanistan's victorious team after they united the nation in a rare moment of shared joy, but officials also told jubilant Afghans to stop firing guns into the air in celebration. The team beat India 2-0 to win the championship in Kathmandu, Afghanistan's first international soccer title, sending tens of thousands of joyous Afghans into the streets. (Omar Sobhani / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Afghan security forces arrive at the site of a suicide attack in Maidan Shar, the capital of Wardak province, on Sept. 8. At least four Afghan intelligence agents were killed and more than one hundred people were wounded, the provincial government said. (Omar Sobhani / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. A farmer works on the outskirts of Mazar-i-Sharif on Sept. 5. Only about 15 percent of Afghanistan's land, mostly in scattered valleys, is suitable for farming with about 6 percent of the land actually cultivated. (Farshad Usyan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Children climb on a fence as they sell tea in Kabul on Sept. 4. A tea vendor earns an average of $1 a day. (Mohammad Ismail / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Men stand near a destroyed car after floods in the Shakar Dara district of Kabul on Aug. 11. At least 22 people were killed and farmland was damaged when flash floods hit a plain near the capital, officials said. (Mohammad Ismail / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A man washes his horse in Kabul on Aug. 4. (Mohammad Ismail / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Afghan security officials at the scene of a bomb blast in Jalalabad on Aug. 4. A remote-controlled bomb targeting the vehicle carrying state prosecutor Abdul Qayoom went off, injuring Qayoom along with 16 others. (Abdul Mueed / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Men swim in a public pool in Herat on July 20. (Aref Karimi / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Men eat and drink tea in an old restaurant ahead of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, in Kabul on July 7. Throughout the month, devout Muslims must abstain from food and drink from dawn until sunset when they break the fast with the Iftar meal. (Massoud Hossaini / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Afghanistan National Army (ANA) soldiers walk with an arrested Taliban fighter, center, at an army station on the outskirts of Jalalabad on July 7. Three Taliban fighters were killed and one arrested after they attacked a police checkpoint on the Kabul-Jalalabad highway, officials said. (Noorullah Shirzada / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Afghan men shout slogans in support of ousted Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi in Kabul on July 5. (S. Sabawoon / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Afghan security forces arrive following a suicide bombing in Kabul on July 2. Militants blew up a suicide car bomb at the gate to a NATO compound in Kabul and attacked guards with small-arms fire, killing four guards and two civilians, police said. All four suicide attackers were also killed. (Rahmat Gul / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. A would-be suicide attacker lies on the ground after his vest was defused in Jalalabad province on June 30. Afghan security forces captured the man before he blew himself up. (Parwiz / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. A policeman keeps watch as two schoolgirls walk near the entrance of the presidential palace in Kabul on June 25. Taliban militants targeted the presidential palace, detonating two vehicles at an entrance to the complex. (Shah Marai / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Afghans chant anti-government slogans after burning a truck believed to be owned by foreigners during a demonstration in Kabul on June 24. The protest centered around government plans to develop a subdivision in the capital on land that has long been occupied by squatters. Demonstrators blocked two main roads out of the city, and said they would continue their protests until the government gave them somewhere else to live. (Rahmat Gul / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. A Taliban flag is visible through a gap in a wall of the new office of the Afghan Taliban in Doha, Qatar, on June 20. The flag and other fanfare surrounding the militants' opening of an office in the Gulf state threatened to derail planned discussions with U.S. officials. (Osama Faisal / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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    A wounded man is helped during a car bomb attack in Kabul on June 11. A suicide attack on buses carrying workers from Afghanistan’s Supreme Court killed at least 14 civilians and injured 38 others, police said. (Omar Sobhani / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Afghan security forces stand guard at the site of a suicide attack near Kabul military airport on June 10. All seven militants who launched the attack died in the assault, Afghan police said. (Shah Marai / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. A girl stands in the doorway of her house in the old sector of Herat on June 5. Over a third of Afghans are living in abject poverty, as those in power are more concerned with addressing their vested interests rather than the basic needs of the population, a UN report said. (Aref Karimi / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. An Afghan security official is surrounded by the shadows of colleagues as he keeps watch at the scene of an attack in Jalalabad late on May 29. Militants launched a two-hour suicide and gun attack on a Red Cross office, killing one guard, officials said. It was the first time that Red Cross offices had been targeted since the organization began work in Afghanistan in 1987. (Noorullah Shirzada / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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    A man looks at the dead body of a suicide attacker after he was killed by security personnel in Panjshir province on May 29. Six Taliban insurgents, some wearing suicide vests, attacked the governor's compound in the fiercely anti-Taliban Panjshir valley, killing one policeman, officials say. (Omar Sobhani / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Police take cover during a gunbattle following a suicide attack in Kabul on May 24. A suicide bomber struck in the heart of the Afghan capital, sending a plume of smoke billowing over Kabul and setting up a gunbattle in the second major attack in the city in little over a week, police said. (Ahmad Jamshid / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Children run away after an explosion in Kabul on May 24. Several large explosions rocked a busy area in the center of the Afghan capital. (Omar Sobhani / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Police carry away a wounded person after a suicide bomber struck outside a provincial council headquarters in Pul-i-Khumri, Baghlan province, northern Afghanistan, on May 20. The council chief and 14 others were killed, police said. Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the bombing, saying the killing of civilians shows the “true nature” of the Taliban. (Jawed Basharat / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Children peer through a fence that surrounds a swimming pool on a hill overlooking Kabul on May 17. The swimming pool built by the Soviets more then 30 years ago has rarely been used. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. U.S. soldiers from the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade and a Polish soldier, center, carry a dog on a stretcher from a UH-60 Black Hawk medevac helicopter during a training drill at Forward Operating Base Ghazni on May 17. (Dibyangshu Sarkar / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. A U.S. soldier arrives at the scene where a suicide car bomber attacked a NATO convoy in Kabul on May 16. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. A woman harvests wheat on the outskirts of Kabul on May 15. Afghans mainly use wheat to feed their animals. (Ahmad Jamshid / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Police arrive at the site where a police vehicle was hit by a remote-control bomb in the Kama district of Jalalabad province, east of Kabul, on May 11. The bomb killed and wounded several policemen, a local government spokesman said. (Rahmat Gul / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. A displaced man fixes his roof as the weather takes a turn for the worse, bringing rain and high winds at a refugee camp in Kabul on May 10. Thousands of Afghans displaced by the war live in slum-like conditions in camps on the edge of the capital. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Farmers collect raw opium as they work in a poppy field in Khogyani district of Jalalabad of May 10. Opium poppy cultivation has been increasing for a third year in a row and is heading for a record high, the U.N. said in a report. Poppy cultivation is also dramatically increasing in areas of the southern Taliban heartland, the report showed, especially in regions where thousands of U.S.-led coalition troops have been withdrawn or are in the process of departing. The report indicates that whatever international efforts have been made to wean local farmers off the crop have failed. (Rahmat Gul / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Afghan Army soldiers gather at a military training facility on the outskirts of Kabul on May 8. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. A foreign girl pops an ollie on her skateboard as Afghan youths gather for the Sound Central Festival at the French Cultural Center in Kabul on May 2. The Sound Central Festival, now on its second year, is the only event of its kind that takes places in Afghanistan, where music was banned by the Taliban until the end of 2001. (Massoud Hossaini / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. Young men cheer as Afghan and foreign musicians perform during the Sound Central Festival at the French Cultural Center in Kabul on May 1. The concert is part of a cross-cultural program to increase awareness of music and the arts in Afghanistan. (S. Sabawoon / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. A man visits a wounded relative in the hospital in Kandahar on April 26, after a bus collided with the wreckage of a truck that was attacked by Taliban insurgents in Maiwand district. Scores of people aboard the bus were killed in the fiery crash, officials said. (Allauddin Khan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. A street vendor sells balloons as he walks through the Karte Sakhi cemetery in Kabul on April 26. The cemetery, located at the foot of Kabul's TV Mountain, is located near the Karte Sakhi Shrine, the second most sacred place of Shia worship in the country. (Manjunath Kiran / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. A woman stands in her home after it was damaged by a powerful earthquake in Charbagh village in Nangarhar province on April 24. Seven people were killed, dozens injured and many homes destroyed when a powerful earthquake struck eastern Afghanistan, officials said. (Noorullah Shirzada / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. Police officers from the anti-corruption Shafafiyat unit work on documents at their office in Kabul, April 23. Afghanistan's security forces are routinely accused of murder, rape and corruption on a grand scale, but the anti-corruption police unit's sole conviction last year was a junior policeman who forged some documents, the head of the unit told Reuters. (Omar Sobhani / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. U.S. soldiers along with members of Afghan National Army (ANA) march from the Forward Base Honaker Miracle at Watahpur District in Kunar province into the fields on the foot of Operating Post Rocky during a joint patrol led by the ANA to conduct artillery fire training on April 18. (Manjunath Kiran / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  45. Relatives gather beside the body of Afghan men who were allegedly killed by Iranian soldiers while they were crossing the Afghan-Iran border, outside the Iranian consulate in Herat, Afghanistan, April 18. Dozens of protesters gathered outside the Iranian Embassy to demonstrate against the alleged killing of the men. (Jalil Rezayee / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  46. An Afghan woman waits in a changing room to try out a new Burqa, in a shop in the old city of Kabul, April 11. Before the Taliban took power in Afghanistan, the Burqa was infrequently worn in cities. While they were in power, the Taliban required the wearing of a Burqa in public. Officially, it is not required under the present Afghan regime, but local warlords still enforce it in southern Afghanistan. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  47. A U.S. Black Hawk helicopter arrives at the scene of a NATO helicopter that crashed, killing two American service members in a field near Gerakhel, eastern Afghanistan, April 9. (Rahmat Gul / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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    The lifeless bodies of Afghan children lay on the ground before their funeral ceremony, after a NATO airstrike killed several Afghan civilians, including ten children during a fierce gun battle with Taliban militants in Shultan, Shigal district, Kunar, eastern Afghanistan, April 7. The U.S.-led coalition confirms that airstrikes were called in by international forces during the Afghan-led operation in a remote area of Kunar province near the Pakistan border. (Naimatullah Karyab / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  49. An Afghan army soldier stands guard in the destroyed courthouse in Farah, western Afghanistan, April 4. Suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers stormed a courthouse in a failed bid to free more than a dozen Taliban prisoners. Dozens of people, including the nine attackers were reported killed in the fighting. The assault in Farah province was the latest example of the Taliban's ability to strike official institutions despite tight security measures. (Hoshang Hashimi / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  50. An Afghan policeman offers evening prayers on a hill overlooking Kabul, March 31. (Ahmad Jamshid / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  51. Afghan elders attend a meeting hours after their villages were raided by a combined force of roughly 1,250 Afghans and 175 Americans on March 26. U.S. Brigade commander Col. Joseph "J.P." McGee listens with his U.S. translator, standing, and the Afghan police and army commanders in Khogyani district, Nangarhar province. (Kim Dozier / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  52. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, center, shakes hands with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, right, as U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, James Cunningham looks on at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on March 25. Kerry landed in Afghanistan for an unannounced visit, with relations badly frayed by Kabul's recent hostility to U.S.-led military efforts in the country. (Jason Reed / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  53. An Afghan prisoner leaves with his belongings from the Parwan Detention Facility after the U.S. military gave control of the last detention facility to Afghan authorities in Bagram, outside Kabul, March 25. The handover of Parwan Detention Facility ends a bitter chapter in American relations with President Hamid Karzai, who demanded control of the prison as a matter of national sovereignty. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  54. Afghan men peer through the former window of their destroyed school in the village of Budyali, Nangarhar province, March 19. Taliban militants attacked the nearby district headquarters in July 2011, then took refuge in the school. The Afghan National Army requested help from coalition forces, who responded with drones, fighter jets and rockets, leaving the school destroyed, according to village elders. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  55. Afghan boys study at a makeshift school in the village of Budyali, Nengarhar Province, March 19. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  56. Men in Kabul chant "U.S. special operations forces out!" as several hundred demonstrators march to the Afghan parliament building to protest the continued presence of U.S. commandos in Wardak province, March 16. The demonstrators are demanding the release of nine local citizens they believe were detained by the U.S. forces. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  57. An Afghan military officer falls asleep as he attends a graduation ceremony at the National Military Academy in Kabul on March 13. NATO is aiming to train 350,000 Afghan soldiers and police by the end of 2014 to ensure stability in Afghanistan, but challenges remain. Analysts have warned the country could plunge into another large-scale civil war after the NATO-led force departs by 2015. (Shah Marai / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  58. U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel steps aboard a C-17 military aircraft in Kabul as he prepares to return to Washington on March 11. Hagel ended his three day visit to Afghanistan, his first as Secretary of Defense. (Jason Reed / Pool via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  59. Sher Khan Farnoud, former Chairman of Kabul Bank, attends a hearing at a court in Kabul, March 5. Khalilullah Ferozi the former CEO and Sher Khan Farnoud the former Chairman of Kabul bank were sentenced to five years in jail by a special court in Kabul for their involvement in embezzlement of millions of dollars during their tenure as CEO and Chairman. (S. Sabawoon / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  60. Afghan Hazara and visiting foreign skiers set off at the start of the Afghan Ski Challenge in the Shahidan Valley of Bamiyan province, March 1. Seventeen Afghans and twelve foreigners participated in the third annual Afghan Ski Challenge in Bamiyan during which the Afghan Hazara men won the first three positions. (Massoud Hossaini / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  61. An Afghan soldier walks by a damaged bus following a suicide attack in Kabul, Feb. 27. A man wearing a black overcoat and carrying an umbrella as a shelter against the heavy snow crossed a street in the Afghan capital early Wednesday morning toward an idling bus filled with Afghan soldiers, where he laid down and wiggled underneath. Then he exploded, engulfing the undercarriage of the bus in flames. (Musadeq Sadeq / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  62. More than five hundred men marched through the capital of Afghanistan's restive Wardak province on Feb. 26 in an outburst of anger against U.S. special forces accused of overseeing torture and killings in the area. A U.S. defense official in Washington said a review in recent months, in cooperation with Afghanistan's Defence Ministry and National Directorate of Security (NDS) intelligence agency, found no involvement of Western forces in any abuse. (Mirwais Harooni / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  63. Jawanmard Paiz, left and Fawad Mohammadi, stars of the Oscar-Nominated movie 'Buzkashi Boys,' arrive on the red carpet for the 85th Annual Academy Awards, Feb. 24 in Hollywood, Calif. (Joe Klamar / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  64. Students study at a dormitory of Nangarhar University on the outskirts of Jalalabad, Feb. 23. Fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan consumes most of the country's resources and rebuilding the educational system is not a political priority. (Noorullah Shirzada / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  65. Former Taliban militants attend a ceremony with the Afghan government after handing over their weapons in Herat, Feb. 17. About 35 former Taliban militants from Herat province handed over their weapons as part of a peace-reconciliation program. (Hoshang Hoshimi / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  66. Afghan National Army officers shake hands with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, center, during a conference at the National Miltary Academy in Kabul on Feb. 16. Afghanistan has committed to taking full responsibility for its own security after U.S. forces leave, and the White House said Afghan security forces now number 352,000 troops, thanks to a broad NATO training effort. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  67. A female member of Afghan special forces aims her pistol during a training exercise on the outskirts of Kabul, Jan. 14. Afghanistan's army is training female special forces to take part in night raids against insurgents despite cultural taboos, as foreign combat troops recede ahead of their eventual departure. In a country where women traditionally are expected to stay home, their participation in the special forces is breaking new ground in ultraconservative Afghanistan. (Musadeq Sadeq / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  68. A wounded Afghan boy receives treatment at a hospital in Kunar province on Feb. 13. A NATO air strike killed 10 civilians, mostly women and children, in a raid on a Taliban hideout in a remote region of eastern Afghanistan, local officials said. "Five children, four women and a man were killed in the raid," Kunar provincial governor, Sayed Fazulullah Wahidi, told AFP. (Namatullah Karyab / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  69. A model presents a traditional Afghan dress at a fashion show, launched by Young Women for Change (YWC), in Kabul, Feb. 8. The YWC organization is made up of volunteers across Afghanistan, who organize events to help empower Afghan women and improve their lives through social and economic participation. The creations at the fashion show are designed by Afghan women. (Omar Sobhani / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  70. Afghan men chant for justice and punishment for kidnapping gangs involved in the killing of a boy during a demonstration in Herat on Feb. 2. Thousands of Afghan men and women gathered to protest the killing. (Aref Karimi / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  71. A member of the Afghan National Army provides security with a soldier from the U.S. Army's Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment during a patrol near Command Outpost AJK (short for Azim-Jan-Kariz, a near-by village) in Maiwand District, Kandahar Province, Jan. 31. (Andrew Burton / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  72. Afghan school children study at an open classroom in the outskirts of Jalalabad, Jan. 30. Afghanistan has had only rare moments of peace over the past 30 years, its education system was undermined by the Soviet invasion of 1979, a civil war in the 1990s and five years of Taliban rule. (Noorullah Shirzada / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  73. Afghan security forces run on the roof of the Kabul traffic police headquarters as it is attacked by insurgents in Kabul, Jan. 21. A coordinated attack involving at least three suicide bombers and a powerful car bomb took aim at the headquarters, followed by a clash between at least one insurgent and security forces. (Omar Sobhani / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  74. A soldier from 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry surfs the internet during down time at Strong Point DeMaiwand, Maywand District, Kandahar Province, Jan. 20. (Andrew Burton / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  75. An Afghan midwife attends her graduation ceremony at the governor's house, in Jalalabad, Jan. 16. Over 52 midwives graduated after receiving 2 years of training. (Rahmat Gul / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  76. A man who was injured in a suicide bomb attack targeting the office of the Afghan Intelligence agency, leaves the scene, in Kabul, Jan. 16. Six Taliban suicide bombers attacked Afghanistan's National Security Directorate office in downtown Kabul, injuring more than 30 people, most of whom were civilians, police said. One of the bombers exploded himself at the gate and rest were killed by the Afghan security forces before they would enter. (S. Sabawoon / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  77. President of Pentagon Memorial Fund James Laychak touches the banch of his brother David Laychak as he and U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, left, accompany Afghan President Hamid Karzai during a visit to the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, Jan. 10, in Arlington, Virginia. Karzai made a visit to Washington, where he met with President Barack Obama at the White House, to discuss the continued transition in Afghanistan and the partnership between the two nations. (Alex Wong / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  78. Governor of the Afghan province of Nangarhar, Gul Agha Sherzai, right, shakes hands with former Afghan prisoners during a ceremony in Jalalabad on Jan. 3, after their release from Bagram Prison. Some twenty prisoners, who had been accused of working with the Taliban, were released. (Noorullah Shirzada / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  79. An Afghan man poses for a portrait at a refugee camp in Herat on Jan. 2, 2013. Hundreds of families living in makeshift shelters around the Afghan capital Kabul collected blankets, charcoal and other supplies on Jan. 2 as authorities struggle to avoid last year's deadly winter toll. With temperatures dropping to -10 Celsius (14 Fahrenheit) at night in the city, the 35,000 refugees who live in the snow-covered camps face a battle to survive dire conditions protected only by plastic sheeting. (Aref Karimi / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  80. NATO troops from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) participate in celebrations on New Year's Eve in Kabul on Dec. 31, 2012. Thousands of NATO troops across Afghanistan celebrated the new year away from their homes. (Massoud Hossaini / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
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  2. Editor's note:
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  3. Editor's note:
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  1. Image: AFGHANISTAN-UNREST-SOCIETY
    Massoud Hossaini / AFP - Getty Images
    Above: Slideshow (80) Afghanistan: Nation at a crossroads - 2013
  2. Image: AFGHANISTAN-PAKISTAN-BORDER
    Noorullah Shirzada / AFP - Getty Images
    Slideshow (139) Afghanistan: Nation at a crossroads - 2012
  3. Image:
    Rahmat Gul / AP
    Slideshow (234) Afghanistan: Nation at a crossroads - 2011
  4. Image:
    Altaf Qadri / AP
    Slideshow (158) Afghanistan: Nation at a crossroads - 2010
  5. Image: U.S. army soldiers from Task Force Denali 1-40 Cav reposition a 105mm Howitzer during snowfall at FOB Wilderness in Paktya province
    Zohra Bensemra / Reuters
    Slideshow (88) Afghanistan: Nation at a crossroads - 2009: Troops
  6. Image: Afghan protesters shout slogans during a protest in Kabul
    Ahmad Masood / Reuters
    Slideshow (31) Afghanistan: Nation at a crossroads - 2009: Civilians

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