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Three Army Reserve combat engineers from an upstate N.Y. unit on a route clearing mission in Afghanistan were killed when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb in what had been until recently a relatively peaceful corner of southeastern Afghanistan, the Defense Department said Monday.
A fourth soldier form the same unit, the 412th Theater Engineer Command from Oswego, N.Y., was injured in the 1:30 p.m. blast last Saturday in Paktia province that took the lives of Staff Sgt. Dain T. Venne, 29, of Port Henry, N.Y.; Spc. Ryan P. Jayne, 22, of Campbell, N.Y.; and Spc. Brett E. Gornewicz, 27, of Alden, N.Y., said Lt. Col. Doril Sanders, a spokesman for the 412th Engineers.
“These are the first casualties I know of” that were sustained by the 412th since 9/11, Sanders said.
”There is no more honorable, dignified way to go than serving your country,” said Paul Jayne, the father of Jayne, but “his mother and I should not have to bury our oldest child,” the Leader newspaper of Corning, N.Y., reported.
For nearly 10 years after 9/11, there had been no fatalities for allied troops reported in Paktia province, but last year there were 15 and this year there had been 18 recorded before the blast that killed the three New York engineers, according to the website iccasualties.org.
Flags on all N.Y. state government buildings were ordered to be flown at half-staff by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D-N.Y.) to honor the three soldiers.
“Along with all New Yorkers, I mourn the deaths of Spc. Gornewicz, Spc. Jayne and Staff Sgt. Oct. Venne,” Cuomo said in a statement. “These young men were all volunteers who lived and worked in our communities and gave their lives for our great country. We extend our condolences to their friends, their families, and their fellow soldiers.”
All three had served previous tours of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Venne was on his fourth deployment in nearly 11 years as a reservist, Alden had two previous deployments in his nearly seven years in the Army, and Jayne had had deployed once previously in his two years of service, Sanders said. The three began their latest deployment to Afghanistan together last June.
Gornewicz graduated from Alden, N.Y., High School in 2003 and from Buffalo State College in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial technology.
Jayne had recently been home on a 10-day leave and left to return to Afghanistan on Oct. 29.
Venne, a construction worker in civilian life, graduated from the Moriah, N.Y., Central High School in 2001 and had been attending St. Lawrence university in Canton, N.Y.
“Our condolence and prayers go out to the families of these Soldiers killed in this IED incident,” said Maj. Gen. William Buckler, Jr., the commander of the 412th TEC. “We are here to support them.”