Monday, November 29, 2010

Army Pfc. Austin G. Staggs

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Austin G. Staggs, 19, of Senoia, Ga.

Pfc Staggs was assigned to 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; died Nov. 29, 2010 in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when an insurgent attacked his unit with small-arms fire. Also killed were Sgt. 1st Class Barry E. Jarvis, Staff Sgt. Curtis A. Oakes, Spc. Matthew W. Ramsey, Pfc. Jacob A. Gassen and Pvt. Buddy W. McLain.

A Weatherford soldier was killed Monday along with five other U.S servicemen while on a training exercise in Eastern Afghanistan.

Austin Staggs, 19, attended Weatherford High School until his junior year before transferring to North Hills Private School in Millsap for his senior year in 2008.

Staggs’ unit came under attack when a border policeman turned his weapon on American troops, killing all six soldiers before being killed in a gun battle, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force said.

The incident appears to be one of the worst in a string of attacks in which members of Afghan security forces have turned against the international troops with whom they’re supposed to be partnered.

The shooting took place in Nangarhar province, in the remote district of Pachir Agam, Afghan and U.S. officials said. The district, which borders Pakistan, is home to the Tora Bora mountains, where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden made a last stand against invading U.S.-led forces in late 2001 before escaping to Pakistan.

“He’s a good kid. He had a good heart. He loved people. He finished what he started. He accomplished his goal,” said Kaye Jordan, Staggs' mother.

Army Pvt. Austin G. Staggs, who was deployed in June, was killed, his family confirmed. “He was just a child,” said Staggs’ stepfather Judd Jordan, with emotion heavy in his voice.

Jordan and his wife, Kaye, Staggs’ mother, were unable to comment further because they headed out Tuesday to Dover, Del., to view Staggs’ body.

On Tuesday afternoon, a Department of Defense spokesman declined to give specifics about the incident, citing a 72-hour wait period for families to be informed of the incident. Information will likely be released today.

The Afghanistant News Net noted six soldiers were killed Monday by a man dressed as a police officer, who fired upon them. It is not yet known if that incident was the one in which Staggs died, and names of the soldiers who died in that incident were not released Tuesday.

Staggs lived with his mother and stepfather in Weatherford from 2000 to 2009, Jordan said. According to a release put out by the Army in February, Staggs graduated from the Fire Support Specialist Advanced Individual Training Course at Fort Sill in Lawton, Okla. Specialists in that field serve in intelligence activities, such as division artillery, cannon battalions and fire support.

According to a family member, Staggs has been married for about nine months and has a 2-year-old son. Staggs is the son of Kaye L. Jordan of Henry Lane, Weatherford, Texas, and Byram G. Staggs of Lone Oak Drive, Senoia, Ga.

Private 1st Class Austin Garrett Staggs, 19, of Senoia, GA, was a Fire Support Specialist who joined the Army in September 2009 and arrived at Fort Campbell in February 2010. His awards and decorations include: National Defense Service Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Army Service Ribbon and NATO Medal.

Staggs is survived by his wife, Sheena Staggs of Clarksville, Tennessee; son, Kallen O’Neal of Weatherford, Texas; parents, Byram Staggs of Senoia, GA and Kaye Jordan of Weatherford, Texas.

Army Pfc. Austin G. Staggs was killed in action on 11/29/10.

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