2nd Fort Bragg soldier killed in Afghanistan recently; Montana tribe mourns loss of soldier killed Friday
By Drew Brooks
"A Fort Bragg soldier killed in Afghanistan almost a week ago has become the fourth soldier to die in Afghanistan in two weeks, and the sixth to die there since the beginning of March.
"The Department of Defense's announcement late Monday night of the April 3 death of Staff Sgt. Tyler J. Smith, 24, of Licking, Mo., comes on the heels of Sunday's announcement that Spc. Antonio "Tony" C. Burnside died there Friday.
"Smith died of wounds suffered when he was attacked with an enemy improvised explosive device in Kandahar province. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.
"Burnside, 31, of Great Falls, Mont., died of injuries suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with small-arms fire. He was assigned to the 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.
"He also was a member of the Blackfeet Nation, tribal officials said Monday. Burnside was a part of the Many Hides family, one of the largest within the tribal community.
"Burnside was killed a day before his recently deployed unit took control of the area in Afghanistan from NATO troops. Officials said he was part of a team of soldiers conducting a route clearance mission when insurgents attacked using small arms.
"The mission was one of the first for his unit in Afghanistan's Ghazni province. The 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team deployed to Afghanistan in late March and took control of the southern part of Ghazni following a ceremony Saturday with Polish troops, who previously patrolled the area.
"Burnside, 31, of Great Falls, Mont., died the day before the ceremony, according to the Department of Defense.
"All Blackfeet hearts are broken today as we learn we must bury one of our warriors whose life was tragically cut short on the far side of the world," said Blackfeet Chairman T.J. Show. "We are reminded how inadequate our words are when a warrior has made the ultimate sacrifice. Tony represents the best among us and our thoughts and prayers are with the family as they struggle to deal with the shock of this terrible loss."
"Burnside's remains arrived in the United States on Monday, and a ceremony was held at Dover Air Force Base, Del.
"He will be buried on the Blackfeet reservation in northwest Montana, according to the tribe. Details about the service and burial have not been decided.
"The Blackfeet Nation is assisting the family in any and every way we can to honor our heroic warrior and ease the family's grief," said Keith Heavy Runner, Blackfeet veterans affairs officer.
"The Blackfeet are the largest Indian tribe in Montana and one of the largest in the U.S. with nearly 17,000 enrolled members.
"The tribe described Burnside as an active member in tribal life. He was a traditional dancer and grass dancer and participated in ceremonies, sang with the Gray Horse Singers and studied Cree.
"Tribal officials said Burnside served with pride, dignity and integrity.
"His relatives on the reservation include a tribal councilman, Willie A. Sharp Jr., who said Burnside will be remembered and celebrated for his service and sacrifice.
"This tragic loss of our heroic warrior underscores that we must never forget the high price of freedom," he said.
"Burnside was a member of the 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion and was promoted posthumously to corporal. Route clearing missions are routine for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. They involve checking roads for improvised explosive devices and other dangers.
"Burnside is survived by his wife, Christine; daughters, Ariana, Heartlynn and Angel; and son, Tony Jr., according to officials.
"The Burnside family is extremely grateful and honored by the outpouring of support and condolences from across the state and nation in response to their loss," Maj. Tim Crowe, a National Guard spokesman, told Montana media.
"The Montana National Guard released the statement on behalf of the Burnside family.
"Antonio was proud and honored to serve his country and chose to do so as a member of the airborne community within the United States Army," Crowe said. "He served with great pride, dignity and honor. We welcome Antonio home."
"Paratroopers with the 1st Brigade Combat Team arrived in Afghanistan's Bagram Air Base late last month and pushed out to Forward Operating Base Warrior in Ghazni province shortly thereafter. The unit took over authority for the southern part of the province from Polish forces, who will move north to the provincial capital.
"Ghazni province is roughly the size of New Jersey and is between Kandahar and Kabul. Its population of about 1 million is spread throughout several thousand farming villages.
"Information on the military backgrounds of both Burnside and Smith was not immediately available Monday. Soldiers on Fort Bragg had the day off for the Easter holiday, and officials with the 82nd Airborne Division could not be reached.
"Less than two weeks ago, Spc. David W. Taylor, 20, of Dixon, Ky., died in Kandahar province during his first deployment from injuries suffered in an accident at an ammunition supply point. The March 29 accident remains under investigation.
"Taylor was assigned to Company D, 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.
"Spc. Johnathon F. Davis, 20, of Griffin, Ga., also was killed March 29 in Kandahar by enemy small-arms fire. He was assigned to the 4th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division.
"Staff Sgt. Jordan Bear, 25, of Denver and Spc. Payton Jones, 19, of Marble Falls, Texas, both infantrymen with the 82nd Airborne's 4th Brigade Combat Team, died March 1 at the Sang-e-Sar outpost in Kandahar.
"Staff writers Jackie Torok, Andrew Barksdale, Paul Woolverton and Alicia Secord contributed to this report.
Staff writer Drew Brooks can be reached at email@example.com or 486-3567."
Kenneth Stepp salutes Staff Sgt. Tyler J. Smith, 24, of Licking, Mo.; Spc. Antonio "Tony" C. Burnside" the Blackfoot Warrior; Spc. Johnathon F. Davis, 20, of Griffin, Ga., Staff Sgt. Jordan Bear, 25, of Denver; and Spc. Payton Jones, 19, of Marble Falls, Texas all brave soldiers of the U.S.A. who recently were killed in the undeclared war in Afghanistan. The best way to honor these brave soldiers who gave their lives for you and for me is to bring our troops home from Afghanistan before Christmas.