Staff Sgt. Adam Thomas, a 31-year-old Green Beret who went to college in Minnesota, was killed while serving in Afghanistan.
Thomas was in Nangarhar Province when he was injured by an improvised explosive device that triggered during dismounted operations on Oct. 4, the Department of Defense announced. He died from those injuries.
Stars and Stripes reports Thomas is the first person from U.S. forces to be killed in Afghanistan during the fight against the Islamic State.
He was a Special Forces medical sergeant supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel at the time of his death.
He went to St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, majoring in biology and environmental studies after graduating from Larkin High School in Elgin, Illinois, a school spokesperson confirmed. He graduated from St. Olaf in 2007.
His current hometown was Takoma Park, Maryland, and he was assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), out of Fort Carson, Colorado.
"Staff Sgt. Thomas epitomized what it is to be a professional Green Beret and Soldier," said Col. Isaac Peltier, 10th SFG (A) Commander, in a statement. "His loss from our organization and his memory will not be forgotten."
Thomas was on his third tour of duty, having previously served in Iraq and a previous tour Afghanistan, according to Army records. He joined in 2008, and was awarded numerous accolades, including a Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, in a Facebook update, ordered flags in the state to be flown at half-staff for three days.
Casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan
According to Department of Defense figures, three U.S. Army service members have died in 2016 as part of Operation Freedom's Sentinel as a result of hostiles.
Overall, since U.S. military operations began in Iraq and Afghanistan following 9/11, nearly 7,000 U.S. service members have died, according to the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count.
In Operation Iraqi Freedom, a total of 4,506 casualties have been recorded – though most came from 2003-09. And in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, 2,385 U.S. service members have died.
There are approximately 369,149 veterans in Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs 2014 report.
About 21 percent of them are at least 65 years old. Since 9/11, more than 66,000 Minnesotans have been discharged from active duty – about 43,000 served in a combat zone.