A Bellingham-area soldier who was assigned to Fort Lewis was killed in Afghanistan on Thursday after he drove his Stryker vehicle over a buried explosive, according to his family.
Spc. Aaron Aamot, 22, belonged to the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division and had been serving in Afghanistan since mid-July, said his brother, Matt Aamot. He was part of the 1st Battallion, 17th Infantry Regiment – the unit that has absorbed most of the brigade’s officially reported 26 deaths this tour.
Aaron Aamot and another soldier were killed by an improvised explosive device that was buried in the road just northwest of Kandahar, Matt Aamot said.
The U.S. Department of Defense has not released information about any Fort Lewis deaths in Afghanistan this week. But Aamot’s parents, Mark and Julie Aamot, were notified Thursday night that their son was killed in action.
Aamot grew up in Custer, the fifth of eight siblings. He graduated from Ferndale High School in 2006 and joined the military shortly after. Matt Aamot, 33, believed his brother saw the military as a stepping stone into a career in law enforcement, which he hoped to pursue when he got out of the service in the next year.
Aamot had been home on leave from Oct. 11 to Oct. 25, and for that his family is thankful.
“The best thing is we were able to see him a couple weeks ago,” Matt Aamot said. “Everyone is taking it hard, but we’re Christians, so it’s a temporary interlude until we see him again. Our faith will help us out.”
Family members planned to go to Dover, Del., on Friday night to bring their son back home. A memorial service is being planned for next week.
“I’m pretty heartbroken, but I’m proud of his service,” said Matt Aamot, who also served in the military. “We weren’t in a combat zone, but I served in Bosnia in 1996. Aaron was trying to do the same thing we were doing there: Bring folks peace and freedom they’d never experienced. So that comforts me a little bit.”
The grief was still setting in for Matt Aamot, who found it hard to believe his little brother was gone.
“I still think of him as a kid, even though he’s 22,” he said. “He was a real fun kid. He was great with his nephews and nieces, just easygoing. He was a nice brother. I’m honored to have been his brother.”
The two shared interests in the military, as well as 4-H Club and FFA.
“4-H was a big part of his life. Raising and showing chickens at the fair was a big deal for him,” he said. “He kind of took after me.”
Aaron Aamot is also survived by brothers Daniel, Benjamin, Ethan, Dale, and Joshua; and a sister, Nellie Huisman.
The 5th Brigade and its roughly 4,000 soldiers have the job of trying to clear resurgent Taliban fighters from rural parts of southern Afghanistan. The unit has taken multiple casualties, mostly from buried improvised explosives.
Eight soldiers from the brigade were killed on a single day last week – including seven men in one bombing of their 20-ton Stryker vehicle – which made Oct. 27 the deadliest day for Fort Lewis since the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The News Tribune contributed to this report.