UPDATE: Governor orders flags to half-staff following death of soldier from Wasilla

Published: Jul. 5, 2017 at 8:03 AM AKDT
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12:00 p.m. Update:

After an Alaskan serving in the Army was killed in Afghanistan, Alaska Governor Bill Walker ordered that both United States and Alaska flags be immediately lowered to half-staff.

In a news release, the Walker's press secretary said that Private First Class Hansen Kirkpatrick died from injuries sustained "while on patrol [...] in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel."

In a statement, Walker said, “Every day, our military servicemembers put their lives on the line in defense of the values we hold dear, knowing that they may one day make the ultimate sacrifice.” Walker also extended condolences to Private Kirkpatrick’s family and friends, who "have suffered the incredible loss of a devoted and dedicated young man.”

Flags should return to full staff at sunset on Thursday, July 6.

Original Story:

An Alaskan soldier serving with the United States Army in Afghanistan was killed and two other soldiers were injured during what the Army's public affairs office calls an "indirect fire attack" in Helmand.

The United States Army says Private First Class Hansen Kirkpatrick, 19, of Wasilla died on Monday in Helmand Province, Afghanistan after suffering wounds

The Defense Department says Kirkpatrick was wounded in an indirect fire attack on July 3. "The incident is under investigation," according to a statement released by Fort Bliss public affairs office.

Mike Brantley, a media specialist in Fort Bliss, said that the investigation is still ongoing and so the nature of the incident that took Kirkpatrick's life is not completely certain.

"We're not exactly sure what killed him or how he died. The investigation is still ongoing in Afghanistan," Brantley said.

Kirkpatrick was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss, Texas.

Several of those in the armed service that knew Kirkpatrick released statements on Wednesday to speak about him.

“PFC Hansen Kirkpatrick served honorably as a mortarman in 1-36 Infantry, the Spartans,” said Maj. James C. Bithorn in an email. Bithorn is the executive officer of the Stryker Brigade Combat Team. “He was a caring, disciplined, and intelligent young Soldier who daily lived the Spartan motto of ‘Deeds Not Words.’"

“Our thoughts and prayers are with PFC Kirkpatrick’s family and loved ones,” said Brig. Gen. Mark Landes, 1st Armored Division deputy commanding general. “As there is no stronger bond than that between Soldiers, the Army and 1st Armored Division mourn the loss as a family.”

Two other soldiers were also wounded in the attack. "Their wounds aren't considered life-threatening," the Fort Bliss news statement said. The two soldiers are currently being treated at a coalition medical facility.

Increased fighting against terrorist forces has increased U.S. military deaths and injuries in Afghanistan.

According to a New York Times report, several of the American soldiers who have died in combat in Afghanistan in 2017 were "involved in the fight against the Islamic State group in its stronghold in a small eastern area of the country."

In addition to ISIS, the Associated Press reported that there has been a recent increase in U.S. military deaths and injuries in Afghanistan as the fighting season with the Taliban becomes more intense.

American military forces are increasing their collaboration with Afghan military partnerships in order to decrease casualties.