A U.S. Special Forces soldier was killed “in action” in Afghanistan on Saturday, the Pentagon announced in a brief statement. That soldier is identified as Sgt. Maj. James G. “Ryan” Sartor, a 40-year-old from Teague, Texas, assigned to 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne). He was killed during combat operations in Faryab Province, Afghanistan.
The sergeant major’s death marks the fourth death of a U.S. service member in Afghanistan within a month. Sgt. 1st Class Elliott Robbins, Master Sgt. Micheal Riley, and Sgt. James Johnston all died in Afghanistan over the past several weeks. Twelve service members have been killed in Afghanistan this year.
While NATO did not provide further details, the Taliban claimed responsibility for killing “two U.S. soldiers” by “blowing up an American tank,” according to Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed. However, the U.S. doesn’t field tanks in Afghanistan.
Sergeant Sartor was born on September 23, 1978. He joined the Army in June of 2001 before completing the Special Forces Qualification Course and was assigned to 10th SFG in 2005. Sartor had five deployments to Iraq and was on his second tour of Afghanistan with 10th SFG.
“We’re incredibly saddened to learn of Sgt. Maj. James “Ryan” Sartor’s passing in Afghanistan. Ryan was a beloved warrior who epitomized the quiet professional,” said the commander of 10th SFG, Col. Brian R. Rauen. “He led his soldiers from the front and his presence will be terribly missed.”
Sergeant Sartor’s awards and decorations include: the Bronze Star Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Army Achievement Medal, Presidential Unit Citation Award, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Valorous Unit Award with two oak leaf clusters, Meritorious Unit Citation with one oak leaf cluster, Army Good Conduct Medal with six knots, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Iraq Campaign Medal with four Campaign Stars, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Non-commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon with numeral 5, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon with numeral 2, NATO Medal, Special Forces Tab, Ranger Tab, Combat Infantryman Badge, Senior Parachutist Badge, and Special Operations Diver Badge.
The U.S. has been involved in the war in Afghanistan since 2001. Some of the youngest troops deployed there weren’t even born when the U.S. first brought troops to fight the Taliban just weeks after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Over 2,400 U.S. deaths have occurred there while fighting the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and Islamic State fighters.
This latest combat action came on the heels of an attack on Friday, where at least six people were killed and 14 others wounded after a suicide bomber, believed to be in his early teens, attacked a civilian wedding celebration in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province.
The U.S. and the Taliban have been in talks in Doha, Qatar in an attempt to find a peaceful solution to the war and for the U.S to withdraw its troops.