This Week at War: Saluting a ‘Beloved Leader’
The Stream's weekly look at the sacrifices of U.S. troops and military families around the globe.
For the seventh time this year, a military family is mourning the loss of an American hero in Afghanistan.
According to the Department of Defense, U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Bolyard, 42, was killed on September 3 when he was hit “by small arms fire in Logar Province.” His tragic death is under investigation.
As noted by Brig. Gen. Scott Jackson, Command Sgt. Maj. Bolyard was an “outstanding and beloved leader.”
According to the Army Times, the senior non-commissioned officer was shot by an Afghan national police force officer. Another U.S. Army soldier who was wounded in the cowardly attack is reportedly in stable condition.
Bolyard, who earned six Bronze Star medals during previous deployments to Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar and Albania, joined the Army in 1994. According to the Ledger-Enquirer, the fallen hero’s son paid tribute to his dad earlier this week on Facebook.
“The news doesn’t feel real whatsoever,” Preston Bolyard wrote. “He was an amazing man. A great father, husband, and friend to many people. My dad is definitely my hero.”
Please pray for Preston and the entire Bolyard family as they mourn this incomprehensible tragedy.
Also this week, the Defense Department announced the death of a second U.S. service member, Staff Sgt. Diobanjo Sanagustin, at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. The 32-year-old California soldier’s death, which is under investigation, is being classified as “non-combat.” Please keep this soldier’s family in your prayers as well.
The dual tragedies occurred just as a new commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan took over the ongoing war effort. U.S. Army Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, who “has commanded U.S. combat formations at every level,” including Delta Force, “was among the first American soldiers to deploy to Afghanistan after September 11, 2001,” according to NATO.
Almost 17 years later, Gen. Miller is tasked with overseeing the longest war in American history. With two more American lives lost this week, the general’s leadership will be crucial in determining the conflict’s eventual conclusion.
“We must ensure terrorists can never use Afghanistan as a safe haven,” the general said on Sunday in Kabul, according to Stars and Stripes.
Miller’s predecessor, U.S. Army Gen. John Nicholson, said the same day that “it’s time for this war in Afghanistan to end.”
As military families continue to bear the heaviest burdens of Afghanistan’s ongoing bloodshed, let us pray that the hopes of Generals Miller and Nicholson are both realized. With the 17th anniversary of 9/11 approaching, we cannot allow terrorists to seize control of the country where the terrorist attacks were planned. At the same time, perhaps there is a safe, responsible way for our leaders to make peace after 17 brutal years of war.
Until that day arrives, let’s ask God to watch over each and every one of the 14,000 valiant U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan, as well as their loved ones here at home. Most of all, we ask the Lord to comfort the Bolyard and Sanagustin families during this time of grief. Their sacrifices will never be forgotten.
Thousands of U.S. troops are still battling ISIS in Syria and Iraq, but as this heartwarming photo shows, a Louisiana National Guard soldier is back in the arms of his loved ones after nine long months.
Welcome home, hero!
Tom Sileo is a contributing senior editor of The Stream. He is co-author of three books about military heroes: 8 Seconds of Courage, Brothers Forever and Fire in My Eyes. Follow Tom on Twitter @TSileo.