FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WNCN/AP) — Fort Bragg officials announced Friday that a special forces soldier was among 13 U.S. service members killed in an attack at Kabul airport Thursday.
“Our teammate died not only serving our nation, but helping to give others a life of freedom and opportunity,” a tweet from the 1st Special Forces Command said.
About 6,000 troops from Fort Bragg have been deployed to assist with the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.
“The family has been notified,” the statement from the special forces group said. “They are continually in our thoughts and have our full care, support, and assistance during this difficult time.”
CBS affiliate WVLT reported the Fort Bragg soldier who died was Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss.
Knauss, 23, recently purchased a home near Fort Bragg, his family told WATE-TV in Knoxville.
He was a soldier assigned to 9th Battalion, 8th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne) after joining the Army in May 2016.
Following Initial Entry Training and Airborne School at Fort Benning, Ga., Knauss was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, and deployed to Afghanistan in 2017 as an infantryman.
Upon returning home he attended and completed the Psychological Operations Assessment and Selection
Course and the Psychological Operations Qualification Course. Upon graduation was when Knauss was assigned to his most recent airborne group.
“We share in the tremendous grief over the loss of Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, and we stand in support of his
wife and entire family during this tragic time,” Col. Jeremy Mushtare, commander, 8th Psychological
Operations Group (Airborne) said. “Ryan was the embodiment of an Army Special Operations Forces soldier,
a testament to the professionalism of the non-commissioned officer corps, and a steadfast husband and
teammate. His loss is devastating to our formation and Army family.”
He is remembered as a motivated man who loved his country and was looking forward to coming back to the U.S. and eventually moving to Washington, D.C., family members said.
Knauss’ grandfather, Wayne Knauss, told WATE that the family received word of Knauss’s death on Friday, and funeral services are being planned. Knauss said his grandson attended Gibbs High School and grew up in a Christian home.
“A motivated young man who loved his country,” Wayne Knauss said. “He was a believer, so we will see him again in God’s heaven.”
Stepmother Linnae Knauss said Ryan planned to move to Washington after he returned to the U.S.
“He was a super-smart hilarious young man,” she said.
The bombing was blamed on Afghanistan’s offshoot of the Islamic State group.
Eleven Marines, one Navy sailor and one Army soldier were among the dead, while 18 other U.S. service members were wounded in Thursday’s bombing.
Meanwhile Friday, the Pentagon said it has determined that the attack at the Kabul airport on Thursday involved only one location and not two as was previously reported.
The Pentagon said there was one Islamic State suicide bomber, who struck at the Abbey Gate, where desperate Afghans were crowding to try and enter Kabul airport grounds and where U.S. troops were conducting security checks.
Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor, the deputy director for regional operations on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, told reporters on Friday that there was no second explosion near the Baron Hotel near the airport.
He said the bombing at the Abbey Gate was followed by direct gunfire from north of the gate – part of what the military has called a complex attack. Taylor said they have no more details on the identity of the shooters. Taylor attributed the incorrect initial U.S. report about a second explosion to confusion.
In its claim of responsibility late Thursday, IS said one of its fighters carried out the bombing and posted a purported photo of the bomber, posing with his explosives vest before the attack.
Two officials said 169 Afghans died, but a final count might take time amid the confusion. The U.S. said the 13 troopers were killed in what was the deadliest day for American forces in Afghanistan since August 2011.