Pentagon identifies two soldiers killed in combat in Afghanistan this week

Master Sgt. Micheal B. Riley and Sgt. James G. Johnston died in combat.
Image: Master Sgt. Michael B. Riley and Sgt. James Gregory Johnston were killed in Afghanistan on June 25, 2019.
Master Sgt. Michael B. Riley and Sgt. James Gregory Johnston were killed in Afghanistan on June 25, 2019.U.S. Army

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By Mosheh Gains and David K. Li

WASHINGTON — Two American soldiers killed in Afghanistan this week were identified as sergeants originally from central New York and Germany, the Pentagon said Thursday.

Army Master Sgt. Micheal B. Riley, 32, and Sgt. James G. Johnston, 24, died Tuesday in combat in the Afghan province of Uruzgan, officials said.

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Riley, originally from Heilbronn, Germany, was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) out of Fort Carson, Colorado.

The two U.S. service members were on a joint U.S.- Afghan patrol when they were fatally shot, a defense official told NBC News.

"It is with a heavy heart that we learn of the passing of Master Sgt. Micheal Riley in Afghanistan," Col. Lawrence G. Ferguson, the commander of the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), said in a statement Thursday. “We will honor his service and sacrifice as we remain steadfast in our commitment to our mission.”

Johnston, originally from Trumansburg, New York, came from the 79th Ordnance Battalion (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), 71st Ordnance Group, stationed in Fort Hood, Texas.

Johnston's family plans to collect his remains at Dover Air Force Base and have him buried in Texas, NBC affiliate WETM in Elmira, New York, reported.

Gains reported from Washington, D.C., and Li from New York.