Pfc. Brandon Buttry was just 19 years old, had only joined the Army in January and had been in combat less than four months.
The Stryker soldier from Joint Base Lewis-McChord died Monday in Afghanistan’s Kandahar Province, the Defense Department announced Tuesday.
No official details were released about the manner of Buttry’s death. The Shenandoah, Iowa, resident was assigned to the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. He’s the brigade’s 16th casualty since it deployed to southern Afghanistan this year.
Buttry grew up with 13 brothers and sisters raised by Don and Pam Buttry, the Omaha World-Herald reported. The family is a mix of the couple’s adopted and biological children.
“They really are an amazing family,” Steve Buttry, Brandon’s uncle, told the World-Herald. “They are devastated. But they have a strong faith and a strong family, and they will get through this.”
Buttry’s brigade is in the final weeks of its deployment to southern Afghanistan. His unit deployed in March to Kandahar’s Panjwai district, a volatile corner of the country that the Taliban considers part of its homeland.
Buttry enlisted in the Army in January and was assigned to Lewis-McChord in May. He joined the 3rd Brigade in Afghanistan in July, and was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment.
The soldier talked about his decision to join the Army with his pastor, Mike Brogan of Memorial Baptist Church told the World-Herald. Buttry earned a high-school equivalency certificate in 2011.
“He just wanted to serve his country and make a difference,” Brogan told the newspaper. “He felt like joining would allow him to contribute something to America. It’s probably about that simple and that complicated.”
The news of Buttry’s death comes as the Lewis-McChord community prepares to memorialize one of its most recent casualties. A ceremony is set for today to honor Sgt. Robert J. Billings, 30, who died Oct. 13 in Spin Boldak, Afghanistan, from wounds suffered from an enemy bomb.
Buttry is the 31st soldier from Lewis-McChord reported to have died in a combat zone this year.
He is among the youngest Lewis-McChord soldiers to have died in U.S. military operations since Sept. 11, 2001.
A total of 14 soldiers from the base who were age 18 or 19 have died while deployed overseas during that period, according to News Tribune records.