Four Camp Pendleton-based Marines died Monday when two helicopters collided in Afghanistan.
Seven other Americans and three members of the Drug Enforcement Agency combating that country's opium trade died in a separate crash Monday in western Afghanistan.
The Camp Pendleton fatalities were identified by military officials as Capt. Kyle Van De Giesen of North Attleboro, Mass.; Capt. Eric A. Jones, 29, of Westchester, N.Y.; Capt. David S. Mitchell, 30, of Loveland, Ohio; and Cpl. Gregory Fleury, 23, of Anchorage, Alaska according to the North County Times.
The Sun Chronicle newspaper in Massachusetts reported that VanDeGiesen was a 1998 grad of North Attleboro High School, where he was the football team's quarterback. He is survived by his wife, Megan, who is pregnant, and their young daughter, Avery; as well as mother, Ruth Ann; father, Calvin VanDeGiesen; and brothers Ryan and Christian and sister Caitlin, according to the paper.
"It is with sadness today that we learned that our son, brother and husband Marine Capt. Kyle R. VanDeGiesen was killed today in the line of duty in Afghanistan," his family said in a statement that paper published. "He fulfilled his lifelong dream of becoming a Marine helicopter pilot, protecting his family and serving his country."
Fleury, Jones and Van De Giesen were assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 169, Marine Aircraft Group 39 from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing assigned to Camp Pendleton's I Marine Expeditionary Force the paper reported.
Mitchell was assigned to Marine Light Helicopter Squadron 367, Marine Aircraft Group 39 from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing assigned to Camp Pendleton.
It was the heaviest single-day loss of life since June 28, 2005, when 16 U.S. troops on a special forces helicopter died when their MH-47 Chinook helicopter was shot down by insurgents. The casualties also mark the first DEA deaths in Afghanistan since it began operations there in 2005.