Pfc. Jon R. Townsend, 19, Claremore, Okla., died Sept. 16, 2012, in Zabul Province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
Townsend, one of four soldiers killed in the Sept. 16 attack, left for the military just days after he graduated from Sequoyah High School in Claremore in 2011.
His death was one of more than 50 in Afghanistan so far this year attributed to “insider” attacks.
Killed along with Townsend, were:
Spc. Joshua N. Nelson, 22, Greenville, N.C., assigned to 202nd Military Intelligence Battalion, 513th Military Intelligence Brigade, Fort Gordon, Ga.,
Pfc. Genaro Bedoy, 20, of Amarillo, Texas, assigned to 52nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., and
Sgt. Sapuro B. Nena, 25, of Honolulu, assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
His unit took fire from an Afghan police officer.
The Military Times reported that “Their position was attacked with small arms fire, the Pentagon said. NATO and Afghan spokesmen said earlier that an Afghan police officer turned his gun on soldiers during an attack at a remote checkpoint in the south of the country. Their report continued:
Afghan officials said the checkpoint in Zabul province’s Mizan district came under attack first from insurgents sometime around midnight. American forces came to help the Afghan police respond to the attack, said Ghulam Gilani, the deputy police chief of the province.�
It was not clear if some of the Afghan police turned on their American helpers in the middle of the battle with the insurgents, or afterward, or were somehow forced into attacking the American troops by the insurgents, Gilani said. One police officer was killed in the clash with NATO troops, but other officers at the site fled and it was unclear if they were involved in the attack, said Jamie Graybeal, a spokesman for the international military in Afghanistan. A reporter from The (Tacoma) News Tribune visited Mizan District in March during the week soldiers from Lewis-McChord took control of the area.
At the time, about 40 Lewis-McChord soldiers were preparing for a summer assignment providing security for high-ranking U.S. security advisers who would work in close quarters with Afghan service members, The News Tribune reported Wednesday.
In the spring, U.S. soldiers generally spoke warmly about the Afghan army unit in Mizan. They had concerns about the Afghan local police, which the Americans considered less professional than the Afghan army.
American officers in the spring considered Mizan a ripe district to hand over to full Afghan control. Its local Afghan army unit had been successful carrying out its own independent missions, and its local governor earned plaudits from villagers.
U.S. soldiers mostly lived in Combat Outpost Mizan, which housed about 60 soldiers. The outpost was connected to an Afghan army compound on one side and Afghan police headquarters on the other.
Joint Base Lewis-McChord has had about 10,000 soldiers in Afghanistan this summer. The brigade had lost 11 soldiers to combat before this attack.
Two days after graduating from high school in May 2011, Townsend entered the U. S. Army. He married Bittany Taylor Carden on Feb. 25, 2012 while home on leave. The couple spent only a few days together before he returned to Afghanistan, Townsend’s mother, Karen Nelson told the Tulsa World newspaper.
A funeral service with military honors was held at 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 28. 2012, at First Baptist Church in Claremore, OK. Members of Townsend’s family went to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to meet his body when it arrived on United States soil.
“As a boy, Jon’s hero was “Walker, Texas Ranger,” whose reputation for fighting the bad guys and rescuing the good girls was especially appealing and may have been the cause of his interest in body building,” according to his obituary, which also said:
“Jon was actively involved in the 4H program where his chickens, turkeys and geese earned numerous ribbons and even cash prizes.
“Greatly influenced by Michael Mefford, a former band teacher, Jon played almost any instrument he picked up, including the trumpet, drums and guitar.
“He was strong in his Christian faith and enjoyed sharing his faith with others, hoping someone might accept, believe and have eternity to praise and worship God.
“A deep devotion to his family was evident in Jon’s treatment of his mother and grandmother.
“He never left home without making sure they knew of his love for them.”
We regret the late addition of this memorial for him on our website because Pfc. Townsend was a Battle Company soldier that the Army never told us about.
Our ‘thank you’ goes to Spc.Justin Walker for sharing this sad news with us.