Afghanistan blast kills Bend soldier

IED claims five in one vehicle

staff report / The Bulletin /

A roadside bomb killed five U.S. Army soldiers, including Spc. Brandon Joseph Prescott, 24, of Bend, Saturday in Afghanistan, the U.S. Army announced Monday.

Prescott and the others perished when an improvised explosive device, or IED, detonated as their armored vehicle passed by on routine patrol about 1:30 p.m. local time, said Maj. Joseph P. Buccino of Fort Bliss, Texas. The men were attached to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, home based in Fort Bliss. Theirs was the only vehicle in the convoy that was struck.

“Those events can happen on any patrol; that's the type of warfare that occurs in Afghanistan,” Buccino said.

That all five died in the same vehicle is unusual, Buccino said. “It just almost never happens,” he said. “That's extremely rare given the amount of armor (on the vehicle) and the amount of protection the soldiers wear.”

The attack took place near Combat Outpost Hutal in the Maiwand District of Kandahar Province, according to Buccino. The loss of five troops hit their home base hard, he said.

“It's a real tragedy here at Fort Bliss,” the major said. A memorial service is planned there May 21, he said.

Although the Army lists Bend as Prescott's hometown, it notes he was born July 18, 1988, in West Covina, Calif.

Bend-La Pine Schools spokeswoman Julianne Repman said she could find no record that Prescott attended local schools. Family members could not be reached Monday evening for comment. He is survived by his parents and three brothers, according to the El Paso Times.

Prescott enlisted in April 2010 in Portland, completed infantry training at Fort Benning, Ga., and reported to Fort Bliss. He deployed with his unit in December 2012 for a nine-month tour in Afghanistan.

During his short career in the Army, Prescott earned the Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals, as well as the Combat Infantryman Badge and other distinctions, according to the Army.

The other soldiers killed Saturday were identified as 1st Lt. Brandon J. Landrum, 26, of Lawton, Okla.; Staff Sgt. Francis Gene Phillips IV, 28, of Meridian, N.Y.; Spc. Kevin Cardoza, 19, of Mercedes, Texas; and Spc. Thomas Paige Murach, 22, of Meridian, Idaho.

Prescott is not alone among Central Oregonians killed in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere during the war on terror:

• U.S. Army Pfc. Thomas Tucker, killed in June 2006 near Baghdad, was from Madras. Today, he is commemorated by a statue in Madras Friendship Park.

• U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Randy Newman, killed in August 2006 in Iraq, was a Bend native who graduated from Mountain View High School in 2003.

• U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Dale Peterson, killed in Iraq in April 2007, lived in Redmond.

• U.S. Army Sgt. Zachary McBride, a Mountain View High graduate killed January 2008 in Iraq, moved to Bend in 2002.

• U.S. Army Cpl. Jessica Ellis, killed in May 2008 in Iraq, was a Baker City native who took classes over two years at Central Oregon Community College. Today, COCC offers a scholarship for veterans in Ellis' name.

• U.S. Army Pfc. Cody J. Eggleston had been deployed in Iraq for less than a month when he was wounded in October 2008. He died weeks later from his injuries. Eggleston grew up in Redmond and Crooked River Ranch.

• Just days before his ship was to head for the Middle East in 2009, Navy Air Crewman 2nd Class Aaron L. Clingman, from Bend, died in a helicopter crash near San Diego. The region also has lost two locals serving as contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

• 1st Lt. Justin James Wilkens, of Bend, was one of four U.S. Air Force members who died in February 2012 when their small plane went down near Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa.

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