Last week, the Pentagon revealed the identities of two U.S. soldiers who were killed in combat in northern Afghanistan.
Twenty-nine-year-old Spc. Joseph Collette of Lancaster, Ohio and 33-year-old Sgt. 1st Class Will Lindsay of Cortez, Colorado were in Kunduz Province when they were killed on a U.S.-Afghan military operation, CNN reported. According to officials, the two were killed from small arms fire while in battle against the Taliban. Afghan troops were also reportedly killed during the battle.
Collette joined the Army in 2010 and was reportedly an explosive ordnance disposal specialist who was assigned to the 242nd Ordnance Battalion, 71st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group, reported the Army Times.
In a statement, Col. David Green, commander of the 71st Ordnance Group, said the 71st group is “deeply saddened by the loss” of Collette. He added, “We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to his family and friends.”
Prior to leaving for Afghanistan in late December on his first deployment, Collette married Caela Marie Collete and hid about 30 love letters in his house for his new wife to find while he was overseas, reported Stars and Stripes.
“[He] hid them in random places around the house for me to find, [and] I found most of them,” Caela told Stars and Stripes.
Caela said it has been “comforting sitting down reading through [the letters] because it’s almost like he was preparing for this exact scenario.”
“He told me that as soon as 9/11 happened when we were kids, he knew right then that he wanted to join the Army,” Caela added. “He was getting out of the Army in February next year and had never been on deployment. He wanted to go on deployment badly.”
Caela and Collette both have two children from other relationships and planned to have a proper wedding ceremony after the deployment.
“We didn’t have our full ceremony yet because we didn’t have time,” Collette told Stars and Stripes. “We got married less than a month before he deployed, and then when he returned in June we were going to fly to Florida and have a ceremony there.”
Collette is a recipient of the Purple Heart, the Combat Action Badge, and the Senior Explosive Ordnance Disposal Badge, Army Times reported.
Lindsay enlisted in 2004 and is a decorated Green Beret and a recipient of the Bronze Star Medal, a Purple Heart, and the NATO Medal, among many other awards. Lindsay was reportedly assigned to 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces group. Lindsay was no stranger to deployments, having been deployed to Iraq on five tours, to Tajikistan in 2016, and also to Afghanistan.
Col. Lawerence Ferguson, the 10th Group commander, told the Army Times that Lindsay’s Special Forces “family is deeply saddened by the loss.”
“Will was one of the best in our formation, with more than a decade of service in the Regiment at all levels of noncommissioned officer leadership,” Ferguson said. “We will focus now on supporting his family and honoring his legacy and sacrifice.”
Lindsay has a wife and four daughters.
Both men were stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado.
Collette’s and Linday’s deaths mark the third and fourth U.S. service member deaths in Afghanistan of 2019.