The 9 who died in Wanat
March 25th, 2011
09:51 AM ET

The 9 who died in Wanat

In a story from CNN's Special Investigative Unit, Drew Griffin and Jessi Joseph examine the accusations against the U.S. Army of covering up mistakes in the 2008 battle of Wanat in Afganistan.

The July 13, 2008 battle at Wanat, near the Pakistani frontier, was one of the bloodiest since the Afghan war began in 2001. A U.S. force of 49, plus 24 Afghan troops, desperately fought off an attack by some 200 Taliban fighters, calling in air strikes barely 30 feet from their own positions during the struggle. The platoon, in close combat with Taliban fighters, repelled the enemy after nearly four hours of intense fire at a cost of nine Americans dead and 27 wounded.

Find out more about the fallen at CNN's Casualties: Home and Away:

- Jonathan P. Brostrom, 24, of Aiea, Hawaii
- Israel Garcia, 24, of Long Beach, California
- Jonathan R. Ayers, 24, of Snellville, Georgia
- Jason M. Bogar, 25, of Seattle, Washington
- Jason D. Hovater, 24, of Clinton, Tennessee
- Matthew B. Phillips, 27, of Jasper, Georgia
- Pruitt A. Rainey, 22, of Haw River, North Carolina
- Gunnar W. Zwilling, 20, of Florissant, Missouri
- Sergio S. Abad, 21, of Morganfield, Kentucky


Filed under: Casualties • Wanat
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. elsa

    When the leadership protect themselves from fatal error of judgment and negligence, we are no better than some countries that we said do not observe human rights. There is no higher human rights that the right to live and if that was taken by negligence of superiors with no accountability and worse blamed the dead for the negligence, then our leadership is , infact, not only violating those dead soldiers and their families their basic human rights, but also, insulting the bravery and memory of their sons.

    May 29, 2011 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jazzcat

    I can't imagine how salerno gets enjoyment out of mocking the deaths of these men...yet, here it is. It's obvious the guy is suffering from some type of inferiority complex, otherwise he wouldn't bother.

    Really, if you don't care about the men killed, then why make the effort to read the story and make negative comments? See a shrink...you have some serious demons.

    April 3, 2011 at 5:47 am | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      I like to read when they die, as the world get safer. it is about disgust for violence, not about psycological problems.

      April 5, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bringit!

      Well said Jazzcat!

      April 30, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. simonsays

    No air support or heavy equipment plus a crappie location to set up a camp at. The young Lt. does bare some responsibility. His chain of command failed him by not providing him with the necessary tools to succeed. But he also failed his troops by picking a bad location to set up at. To any one that thinks otherwise look at the video. Just because your command structure are idiots does not mean that you should not try and improvise and over come the obstacles that they put in your way. The place he chose to set up camp in did not have enough elevation. Did he not have any old experienced NCO that hinted at this?

    March 30, 2011 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
  4. salerno

    There are 2 videos of the Wanat fighting, one of them made by the Taliban. They are heroic fighters and the american troops cannot win without air support.

    March 29, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. gymninstr

    These men were told what they were to do from their commanding officers. Did you know that we had some commanding officers a sleep at the wheel when while driving? No heavy equipment support, no apache support, no superior visits to see how everything is running. No wonder the Lieutenant felt uncomfortable in Wanat! May you awesome soldiers RIP, we love you!

    March 29, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dindy

    SALUTE TO OUR TROOPS FOREVER !!!

    March 29, 2011 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
  7. mark

    as a canadian just want to say thank-you and god bless these men and there families

    March 27, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dindy

    May people remember their service and remember their families left behind. This war must end.

    March 27, 2011 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  9. dean jones

    I've been to Wanat, Bella, Aranas, camp blessing back in 06-07. my unit was the first americans into that town. Korengal valley is a bad place. I know what those guys went through and how they lived. They did nothing wrong. these guys are the ones who relieved us. we had a year to acclimate, they were thrown right into the grinder from the start.

    March 26, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • MicheleG

      Thank you for truth here. Bless you. (((HUG)))

      March 26, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • gymninstr

      Sounds like it from the video.

      March 29, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Watching

    Be aware: salerno is a DESERTER and has no right to voice an opinion on the deaths of these good men.

    March 26, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Watching

      Oh yeah....and here's the village idiot's buddy. The one who "communicates" in dis-jointed, schizophrenic ramblings, in a bizarre, wierded (code) nobody can understand. And then he crows that all the rest of us are too stupid to get his bigotry.

      March 26, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
      • ebullient

        seriously agree

        March 27, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
      • Watching

        Hope it's with me.

        March 27, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ikeaboy

    Reading this and cannot help but wonder, did none of the afghan troops die or were they just not worth mentioning?

    March 26, 2011 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Chosen Co. Dad

      Both... None died, 4 were wounded slightly, most likely by themselves. The base was named for the Sgt that was murdered by a ANA.

      March 28, 2011 at 3:17 am | Report abuse |
  12. Hilde Springer

    As I watched the report about this battle, my heart cries out for the families of these brave men. The military needs to recognize what has happened and own up to history as it happened. It is the only right thing to do for these men, who gave the ultimate sacrifice, so far away from home.

    March 26, 2011 at 5:26 am | Report abuse |
  13. Hilde Springer

    As I watched the news broadcast of this battle, my heart cries for the families of these brave men, who gave the ultimate sacrifice. It is a sad, sad way that the military has handled this period of history. History is what it is and writing it differently than it happened will not change the actual facts. I am a Vietnam Era Veteran and we watched so many of our brave soldiers in a "no win" situation. We need to look back and then go forward as a more informed force.

    March 26, 2011 at 5:23 am | Report abuse |
  14. salerno

    I agree with the reintroduction of the draft, even if I fought against it personally, as when people were forced to go to Vietnam by draft, there was more opposition to wars in USA. On the other hand, the military service on a voluntarily basis, allows this country to move wars to easily without solid motivations. War should be for self defense, inside the borders, or in international waters to defend ships from piracy.

    March 26, 2011 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
  15. Scott

    God bless these young men.....and their familys.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  16. mangoz

    FormerNavyDoc...I agree with your post. I have watched the men in my family and my husband's family volunteer for the military. My husband was in for 27 years and now our son has been in the Marine Corp for the last 8. We encourage him to get out because America no longer cares about these kids. Your right...they say they do and they love posting it on facebook but you and I know they would never join. They care only about themselves and it is easier for them to "talk the talk" than to "walk the walk". Its a walk that only the bravest of men and women can make. I hear people I work with say..."the only reason they are there is because they are poor and uneducated". They couldn't make it on the outside. YOU ARE WRONG...these kids are all educated and a great majority of them college educated. They come from strong patriot families that care about their country and want to make a difference in the world. They are not heros ... they transcend "heros" ... because this country has cheapend the word "hero". America should be like other countries and require a mandatory 2 years in the military. You would learn the true meaning of values , morals and ethics...things that are extinct in the civilian sector of this country.

    March 25, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  17. bosshog

    I second that! I raised my hand in 1975! I stand behind my brothers who raised their hand!!! (tears in the eyes).

    March 25, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  18. bosshog

    They are soo young but look so old in their pictures. I pray the LORD holds them in his loving arms and comforts them. AMEN.

    March 25, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fost

      i was just thinking how a few of them looked a lot older than what their age was listed as.

      March 25, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • dwreck

      this just breaks my heart. as a U.S. army soldier this brings tears to my eyes but at the same time... it doesn't surprise me that they were neglected by their command. It happens everyday and it will keep happening until some serious restructuring is done. of course they look older than what it says. thats because of all the hell they've gone through. i dont even know those men but i would give my life anyday to have been there to have helped cause i wouldnt have turned my back like the command did and i would be more than honored to have been at their side. Their families didnt deserve this and the families this has yet to happen to wont deserve it either. hooah...

      March 25, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
      • Rodriguez

        Sir,
        You mentioned " i dont even know those men but i would give my life anyday to have been there to have helped".
        The Line forms behind me.
        and you write "i wouldnt have turned my back like the command did and i would be more than honored to have been at their side". True, but don't forget, you can can still voice your opinion to those who are suppose to listen to use, via the polls.

        March 25, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
      • FormerNavyDoc

        Sorry. It bothers me when people say "I would give my life", and they're NOT in the Army or have never served. You would give your life? Good. Stop writing on here and go enlist. Give your country some time in service.

        Don't patronize us. Don't give us lip service. Don't pity us. Get up and contribute. DO SOMETHING. The Army is still recruiting. Or at the very least, have the integrity to vote or write your Congress-person and tell them. ACT. CHOOSE TO ACT in a manner consistent with what you say.

        I'm damn tired of hearing all these "patriots" talk big but don't back it with anything beyond posting something on here or on their stupid Facebook page. Please, spare me.

        As for those who served or are serving.... I'm proud to have spent 8 years of my life with you guys and gals. Take care of each other always.

        March 25, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
      • FormerNavyDoc

        Sorry dwreck..... I know you're in. Don't take that the wrong way. Thank you for your service and for giving of yourself.
        I sincerely appreciate it as a former servicemember.

        But I'd be willing to bet you know EXACTLY what I'm talking about.

        Patriotism is more than talking a good game. It's about standing up for those values when the chips are down.

        March 25, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Ibn al-Nafis

    why are these pointless videos allowed? They are abusive. Off topic at a minimum.

    March 25, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Carole Clarke

    I come from a long line of Army out of Georgia and two of these young men did too. My first cousin lives in Snellville near Atlanta where Ayers was from – it homes in when you know the ground and see the faces. General James Oglethorpe founded the state and we have always had military roots – you could say we are the Sparta of the United States. My father was 34 years in uniform and nearly all my male relatives have served. There's a price to be #1 on this planet and the bill comes due in blood – we've always known that. You pay it in places like Valley Forge, the Alamo, Gettysburg, Belleau Wood, Bastogne, Iwo Jima, the Chosin Resevoir, the Ia Drang Valley, Mogadishu, Baghdad and anywhere in Afghanistan. But I can tell you it's not much appreciated when the folks back home abuse the freedoms we have paid for s dearly. The next time I see my cousin in Snellville I will ask if she had known Ayers – small town.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pseudonym

      Great respect to you and your family. (((HUG)))

      March 25, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      Freedom is not an american brand, as I can be free even in France, Italy, Switzerland, Brasil, Rep Dominican and so on...

      March 25, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
      • drew

        You are a worthless piece of garbage. You come on here and say the things you say? You are a coward and a deserve what ever ill fated crap happens to you. I hope the rest of your days are as miserable as you try to make them for others.

        March 25, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
      • Zipperneck

        RE: Salerno....You stated that "Freedom isnt an American brand...you could be free in France & Switzerland" right? Who the F@%&* do you think died fighting to liberate them from Nazi Germany? You are right that freedom is not a brand, freedom is what you have now and if half the world was filled with Salerno's then there would be no military at all because cowards run & hide like roachs. I hope that one day you find your self in a position of pure hell. Oh wait, your a desserter, your already there. I hope you have a very short life span and please if you have not procreated yet, please save the world from your defective DNA.

        March 25, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        Zipperneck – your post was very funny to read. Thank you for the entertainment.
        USA had an important role in WWII, but it was not the only country to fight against the Nazi. Others like Switzerland or Spain and other were not invaded by the Nazi.
        The problem is that the Nazi ideology won at the end as now USA has the same Nazi ideology than third Reich.
        So it was just a temporary win. Think that in Germany and Italy people were pretty fine with that ideology, they did not have many problem, like the US people now, but sometimes some reactions happen.
        In the end I like the US open market system but I don't think we should impose that with violence.

        March 26, 2011 at 1:59 am | Report abuse |
      • Dindy

        SALERNO....WHY DONT YOU GO TO THE FREE LANDS THAT YOU HAVE MENTIONED ABOVE. WHY YOU WANT TO LIVE IN A LAND WHERE YOU DONT APPRECIATE. YOU HATE US TROOPS. YET YOU WANT TO LIVE IN US .PLEASE LEAVE BECAUSE YOU DONT DESERVE TO BE THERE.

        March 27, 2011 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        I appreciate a lot America, I just despise the US military. I have too many links with US, but may be I'll let it alone one day.

        March 27, 2011 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  21. Pseudonym

    Should we listen to a DESERTER?

    March 25, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      I am proud to be a deserter, as I was forced to joint the military by draft, but they realized I could be very dangerous.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pseudonym

      the village idiot and his puffery......booooooring........

      March 25, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dindy

        SALUTE TO OUR TROOPS FOREVER...YOU ALL WENT FORWARD WHEN THERE IS A CALL. MOST OF YOU KNEW IT IS NOT AN EASY TASK. BUT SAID YES BEHALF OF US. WORDS ARE NOT ENOUGH TO THANK FOR THE SACRIFICE MOST OF OUR TROOPS DID. THANK GOD FOR THESE PRECIOUS LIVES.!!! MANY ENJOY PEACE IN THEIR HOME LAND BECAUSE SOME FACED THE BATTLE IN FAR AWAY LAND. MAY THEY REST IN KINGDOM OF GOD!!!

        March 27, 2011 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
  22. salerno

    They voluntarily signed up to attack another country, they got what they got. War is stupid. The US military was unable to protect the americans died on 9/11, on the contrary, military operations in the middle east caused that attack. You got what you sowed.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • jainTN

      Your words are cowardly which means I don't believe you're a deserter, because I don't believe you would have the guts, mental stability, or brains to even make it through basic training in the U.S. military, much less serve.

      March 25, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      I had the guts to resist to the draft.

      March 26, 2011 at 1:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Dindy

      Just leave USA if anyone does not like the US army or country (usa)

      March 27, 2011 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        A citizen is not forced to love his military when they instead to defend the country is engaged in aggressive operations dangerous for us like 9/11 demonstrated.

        March 27, 2011 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
  23. Pseudonym

    They were all so very young. How terribly they died and where and how. Hope deeply that their deaths will ultimately be for a good in the end. That schools, hospitals, education and peace will grow in that area. Sooner rather than later.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dindy

      Pseudonym........VERY MEANINGFUL POST. THANK YOU SIR.

      March 29, 2011 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
  24. andrew lubin

    It didn;t help that they set-up in the low ground. In the Taliban's opening barrage, they were firing downhill and took-out the humvees with heavy weapons.

    March 25, 2011 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |