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Sailor Dies While Supporting ISIS Airstrikes in Mediterranean

USS Wasp (LHD 1). Navy photo
USS Wasp (LHD 1). Navy photo

The death of a sailor who was deployed in the central Mediterranean is under investigation, Defense Department officials announced Thursday.

Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Fuels) Airman Devon Maurice Faulkner, 24, of North Carolina, died Sept. 20, officials said. Faulkner sustained a non-combat related injury, according to the announcement, but no further information was made available.

Faulkner had been assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp, the lead ship in the Wasp amphibious ready group. The Wasp deployed in June with dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island and amphibious transport dock USS San Antonio to carry the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit on a scheduled deployment to the Central Command area of operations.

Faulkner enlisted in the Navy on Dec. 3, 2015, and had previously undergone training at the Naval Aviation Technical Training Center in Pensacola, Florida, Navy spokesman Lt. Michael Hatfield told Military.com. He reported to the Wasp, his first ship assignment, March 31.

At the time of Faulkner's death, the Wasp had been supporting Operation Odyssey Lightning, a round of airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Libya that began Aug. 1.

Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers and AH-1W SuperCobras assigned to the Wasp have played an active role in prosecuting these airstrikes. In all, 161 strikes have been conducted on ISIS targets since Odyssey Lightning began, according to numbers released by U.S. Africa Command on Wednesday.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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