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Regional & National

Two 82nd Airborne paratroopers, one from Tenn., killed in Afghanistan

April 14th, 2007 9:48 pm by Associated Press



FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Two paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division have died from a roadside bombing in Afghanistan, bringing the number from the division killed in a week to six.


Sgt. David Stephens, 28, of Tullahoma, Tenn., and Staff Sgt. Casey Combs, 28, of Auburn, Wash., were wounded Thursday in the bombing near Miri, Afghanistan, the division said Saturday. The 3,700 members of their task force observed a moment of silence to honor them.


Four other paratroopers from the Fort Bragg-based division died Sunday in Iraq following a bombing.


Stephens was a combat medic and was assigned to the 2nd Battalion of the 4th Brigade Combat Team. He joined the Army in March 2005, came to the 82nd in February 2006 and was a 2002 graduate of the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, where he earned a bachelor's degree in abnormal psychology.


"Sgt. Stephens was an inspiration to all the paratroopers of his unit," said 1st Lt. Dennis Curry, 2-508th Rear Detachment commander. "He always volunteered to help others."


Stephens is survived by his wife, Megan Stephens, and his 3-month-old daughter, Sienna Stephens, both of Spring Lake, N.C.; and his father Charles Stephens of Tullahoma, Tenn.


Megan Stephens said her husband was a Bob Dylan fan and took an iPod filled with Dylan songs on the deployment. He had been selected for officer candidate school but turned it down to train as a medic because his mother had died of a heart attack and he wanted to help people, she said.


Combs, 28, of Auburn, Wash., also was killed in the attack. He was an infantryman in the 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd. Combs joined the Army in 2002 and came to the 82nd the same year.


Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Burrill said Combs joined the Army because of the terrorists attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.


"He was angry that someone would try to attack his country like that, and he wanted to serve his country," Burrill said. "Combs never stepped away from a challenge or shirked responsibility." Combs is survived by his wife, Amber Combs, and his daughter Hallie, 6, and son Trenton, 2, all of Fayetteville, Tenn.; his father, Robert Combs, of Orting, Wash., and his mother Lillian Combs, of Auburn, Wash. Amber Combs said her husband had been a construction foreman before he joined the Army. "He was a good dad, cared a lot about his kids and like to be home with them," she said. Funeral arrangements for the soldiers weren't complete.

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