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Story and photos by U.S. Army Sgt. Joe McFarren, CJTF Phoenix Public Affairs


CAMP PHOENIX, KABUL, Afghanistan – A memorial service for four Soldiers killed in a land mine attack Saturday was held here Monday morning by members of Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix, 76th Infantry Brigade to honor its fallen comrades.

Amidst clear skies and a light breeze, more than 400 U.S. Soldiers and Marines, as well as Soldiers from Great Britain, Romania and France participated in the hour-long ceremony at day break. The ceremony was overseen by Brig. Gen. Richard Moorhead, the commander of the 76th Inf. Bde., and Lt. Gen. David Barno, the commander of Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan. Christopher Alexander, the Canadian ambassador to Afghanistan was also in attendance.

“We stand before you today realizing how fragile we are, and how unpredictable life is,” said CJTF Phoenix Chaplain Lt. Col. Steven Hall in his prayer.

The four Soldiers were killed when the vehicle they were traveling in struck a land mine in eastern Afghanistan as they were part of a mission to access possible locations for new ranges for the Afghan National Army.

“It’s not easy to summarize one’s life into a paragraph,” said. Maj. Larry Rodgers, the 76th Inf. Bde. Chief of Operations, in his dedication to the soldiers during the ceremony. “It’s not much easier to sum up the last eight months into a 30-second biography. Each one of these soldiers was special.”

Perhaps the most profound, and certainly most emotional, moment of the ceremony was when 1st Sgt. Mark Ireland called attendance for the Headquarters Company in which the four soldiers were apart. As each name was called, Ireland reported each fallen soldier not in the formation, rendering many soldiers to tears. The roll call was followed by the playing of taps by 1st Lt. Paul Polyniak of Headquarters Company, 76th Inf. Bde.

“Today, we pay a profound tribute to four soldiers who have given the ultimate sacrifice, their lives,” Moorhead said in his address at the ceremony. “We all lost part of ourselves Saturday in the deaths of four of our fellow soldiers.

“Their deaths have left a void in mind and spirit that will be hard to fill. But we must remember these soldiers died carrying out a role in history that will show how they helped in an incredible task by helping the world advance to be a more peaceful place to live.”



The Adjutant General for the State of Indiana received notification that Soldiers from the Indiana Army National Guard were killed Saturday while on mission in Afghanistan.

Four Soldiers of Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix, 76th Infantry Brigade were killed early Saturday morning when their vehicle hit a landmine about 50 kilometers south of Kabul, Afghanistan.

Dead are: Capt. Michael T. Fiscus, 37, the Plans Officer. ‑He is survived by his wife and two children, who live in Milford, Indiana.

Master Sgt. Michael Hiester, 33, of Bluffton, Indiana, the Operations Sergeant for the 76th Infantry Brigade. ‑He is survived by his wife, two children, and his parents, who live in Bluffton.

Spc. Brett M. Hershey, 23, of Indianapolis, a radio transmitter/operator and driver. ‑He is survived by his parents, who live in State College, Pennsylvania.

Spc. Norman K. Snyder, 19, of Carlisle, Indiana, a radio transmitter/operator. ‑He is survived by his parents, who live in Carlisle.

The four Soldiers were declared dead at 10:54 a.m. ‑The incident is still under investigation.

The Waynedale News Staff

The Waynedale News Staff

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