4 in Kaneohe-based Marine unit perish in Afghanistan


POSTED: Saturday, August 08, 2009
This story has been corrected. See below.

Four members of a Kaneohe-based Marine battalion were killed in Afghanistan in two separate attacks this week, putting August on track to become the deadliest month there for U.S. and allied troops.

Yesterday the Pentagon announced the deaths of three Kaneohe Marine riflemen—Sgt. Jay M. Hoskins, 24, of Paris, Texas; Lance Cpl. James D. Argentine, 23, of Farmingdale, N.Y.; and Lance Cpl. Travis T. Babine, 20, of San Antonio—who were killed Thursday. The Associated Press said four Marines were killed Thursday when a roadside bomb struck their truck in Farah province in western Afghanistan.

The fourth Marine killed was identified as Cpl. Christian A. Guzman Rivera, 21, sof Homestead, Fla. The Pentagon said Rivera was not from Kaneohe, but was assigned to the 3rd Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, on Okinawa.

Earlier in the week, the Pentagon said Petty Officer 3rd Class Anthony C. Garcia, 21, died Wednesday “;while supporting combat operations in Farah province.”; The military had earlier reported the death of a service member Wednesday in western Afghanistan from a roadside bomb.

Garcia—a Navy corpsman or medic—Hoskins, Argentine and Babine were assigned to Kaneohe Bay's 3rd Marine Regiment, 2nd Warrior Battalion, which deployed to Afghanistan in May.

Since May the 3rd Marine Regiment, 2nd Battalion from Kaneohe has lost five Marines and one Navy corpsman in the latest surge in Afghanistan to oust the Taliban.

They are among the 19 Western troops killed in Afghanistan during the first week of August. The death toll is on track to surpass July, when 75 U.S. and allied troops were killed.

Babine's mother, Alice, said her son's crew had escaped injury three weeks ago traveling along the same route when their heavily armored truck hit another roadside bomb. “;Miraculously, they all walked away from it unhurt,”; she said in the blog of her pastor, Steve Branson, from San Antonio.

;  Hoskins enlisted in August 2003 and reported to Kaneohe in January.

This was Argentine's second deployment with the 2nd Warrior Battalion. He deployed to Iraq in January 2008 and returned to Kaneohe in August 2008. He had been a Marine since October 2006 and was assigned to Kaneohe in January 2007. Argentine attended State University of New York, according to his Facebook page. Friends were planning a memorial Mass at his high school chapel tomorrow.

Babine joined the Marine Corps right out of high school in June 2007 and reported to Hawaii last August.

In a blog in the San Antonio Express-News, Pastor Branson said one of Babine's teachers at Village Parkway Christian School described him as “;one of the most logical people I've ever met, and would always have a quirky one-liner ready to lighten the mood. Just a hard worker who did what was expected of him.”;

Babine graduated from Castle Hills First Baptist School as a 2007 honors graduate, his father, William Badger, said.

“;He's one of the finest young men we ever had come through here,”; said Branson. “;He always wanted to be a Marine. That was a desire of his heart.”;

Navy corpsman Garcia had been assigned to the 3rd Marine Regiment's 2nd Warrior Battalion since February and deployed to Afghanistan with the unit in May. He joined the Navy in July 2006.

According to Garcia's MySpace.com page, Garcia was born in Denver but “;grew up an Air Force brat”; and graduated from high school in Florida.

Nicholas Cooper, a high school friend, told the Northwest Florida Daily News in Fort Walton that Garcia had recently married his wife, Jewell. Cooper said Garcia was excited to be deploying.

“;That's what we joined for. That's what we were here for and trained so hard for,”; said Cooper, who is also a Navy hospital corpsman. “;We're combat medics. We take care of Marines. They protect us, and when they need us, we go in.”;

The 2nd Battalion arrived in Helmand and Farah provinces in late May as part of a surge of 21,000 troops as the Pentagon tried to turn around a bogged down, eight-year conflict.

The two other 2nd Battalion Marines killed in Afghanistan were:

» Lance Cpl. Joshua R. Whittle, 20, of Downey, Calif., on June 6.

» Cpl. Matthew R. Lembke, 22, of Tualatin, Ore., on July 10 of wounds sustained on June 24 while supporting combat operations in Now Zad province.


» Iraq: 100 Army soldiers, four Navy sailors, 85 Marines, two Air Force personnel and one civilian with Hawaii ties have been killed since the war started on March 19, 2003.

» Afghanistan: 17 soldiers, 14 Marines, nine sailors and one Air Force officer have been killed. 

» Kuwait: Two soldiers and one sailor have been killed.





        » The U.S. war in Afghanistan began in October 2001. An item on Page 1 yesterday said the war started March 19, 2003, which is when the war in Iraq began.