An Arizona soldier and member of the Arizona State University Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) has died in the line of duty.
ASU ROTC said 1st Lt. Jonam Russell, 25, was killed Tuesday morning while on a dismounted patrol in the Wardak Province of Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The Department of Defense said enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. DOD said Sgt. Stefan M. Smith, 24, of Glennville, GA, and Spc. Rob L. Nichols, 24, of Colorado Springs, CO, were also killed in the attack. They were assigned to the Third Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, Fourth Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Third Infantry Division based out of Fort Stewart, GA.
Russell was born in Canada and raised in Cornville, AZ, before attending ASU in August of 2008.
ASU ROTC said Russell graduated cum laude from ASU's W.P. Carey School of Business with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Communications on May 12, 2011 and commissioned in the U.S. Army as an infantry officer on the same day.
ASU Dept. of Military Science spokesman Joshua Grzywa said Russell's awards and decorations include the Ranger Tab, Airborne Badge, Air Assault Badge, Combat Infantryman Badge, the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terror Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon.
ASU ROTC held a memorial ceremony for Russell at ASU's Old Main in Tempe on Friday.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has ordered that flags at all state buildings lower to half-staff until sunset Thursday.
"Lt. Russell's death serves as a sobering reminder of the daily perils our heroes in uniform face while carrying out their duties," Brewer said in a statement issued Thursday. "For knowingly and selflessly accepting these risks in defense of our nation, they deserve our highest respect."
The Arizona Board of Regents President Eileen Klein released the following statement:
"On behalf of the Arizona Board of Regents and our public universities, I express our deep sorrow over the tragic death of First Lt. Jonam Russell, an Arizona soldier and Arizona State University graduate, who gave his life for the protection of our great country while serving on patrol in Wardak Province in Afghanistan. First Lt. Russell graduated cum laude from ASU's W.P. Carey School of Business in 2011. His dedication to serve and protect his country and his selfless patriotism is a deep reflection on the honor of his character and is a noble example of service for all of our graduates. Lt. Russell, and all the men and women of the United States Armed Forces who defend our freedom daily, are deserving of our profound respect. I extend my deepest sympathy and gratitude to First Lt. Russell's family. He is an American hero."
He is survived by his parents Gilbert and Sophia Russell and siblings Abigail, Noemi, Sarah, Nate and Benjamin.
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