Afghan clash kills Kaneohe Marine, 21


POSTED: Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The heavy fighting in southern Afghanistan has claimed the life of another Kaneohe Marine.

The Pentagon reported that Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard, 21, of New Portland, Maine, died Friday while supporting combat operations in Helmand province.

He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, which has been locked in battle with insurgents in Dahaneh after the Marines stormed Taliban-held strongholds last week. Dahaneh controls access to smuggling and trade routes to the north, which the Taliban uses to ferry fighters and weapons.

This was Bernard's second wartime deployment. He accompanied Kaneohe's 2nd Warrior Battalion when it was sent to Iraq in January 2008.

The Pentagon did provide details of Bernard's death.

The New York Times reported last week that a suicide car bomber attacked an Afghan army base in the southern province of Helmand on Friday evening, detonating an explosion at the gate that killed a soldier and wounded five other people. The bomber tried to drive into the army base in the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, but was stopped at the gate, a spokesman for the provincial governor said.

Two other soldiers and three civilians were wounded.

Bernard joined the Marine Corps in November 2006 and reported to Kaneohe in May 2007.

The office of Maine Gov. John Baldacci said in a written statement: “;Lance Cpl. Bernard gave his life helping to protect a new democracy in Afghanistan. His bravery and sacrifice will be remembered. On behalf of a grateful state and nation, we send our deepest condolences to Lance Cpl. Bernard's family and friends. They will remain in our hearts and prayers during this very difficult time.”;

Since the 2nd Warrior Battalion left Kaneohe in May, it has lost seven Marines during the Helmand anti-Taliban offensive.

Bernard was the fifth 2nd Battalion Marine to die in Afghanistan this month.

A Navy hospital corpsman—Petty Officer 3rd Class Anthony Christian Garcia, 21, of Tyndall, Fla.—died in the same region on Aug. 5.

Three 2nd Battalion 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—were killed in Farah province when a roadside bomb struck their vehicle on Aug. 6.

Since the beginning of August, 39 troops have been killed, while July was the worst month since the beginning of the war in 2001, with 76 killed.