Decorated special forces soldier dies in combat in Afghanistan

Sgt. Maj. James Sartor "was a beloved warrior who epitomized the quiet professional," a military official said.
Image: Sgt. Maj. James Sartor
Sgt. Maj. James SartorU.S. Army

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By Tim Stelloh

A Special Forces company sergeant was killed during combat operations in Afghanistan, military officials said Sunday.

Sgt. Maj. James Sartor, 40, died Saturday in the country’s northern Faryab Province, U.S. Army Special Operations spokesman Lt. Col. Loren Bymer said in a statement.

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Additional details about Sartor’s death were not immediately available.

Sartor, of Teague, Texas, was assigned to the 10th Special Forces Group in Fort Carson, Colorado, Bymer said. He deployed to Iraq as an infantryman in 2002 and later as a Green Beret. Sartor had served in Afghanistan twice — once in 2017 and again this year.

Sartor, who went by "Ryan," joined the Army in June, 2001, and was given more than 20 awards and decorations during his military career. He will posthumously receive a Purple Heart and Bronze Star, Bymer said.

"Ryan was a beloved warrior who epitomized the quiet professional," said Col. Brian R. Rauen, according to the statement. "He led his soldiers from the front and his presence will be terribly missed.

More than 2,400 U.S. service members have been killed in America’s longest war. Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians are also believed to have been killed since the U.S. helped topple the Taliban in 2001.

U.S. officials appeared optimistic about the latest round of peace talks with the Taliban, which began last month.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. envoy for Afghan reconciliation, described them as the “most productive” discussions to have occurred since negotiations started last year.

Mosheh Gains contributed.