At least four locally based service members died or were injured Monday in Afghanistan, where a pair of crashes killed 14, including a military pilot.
The incidents claimed the lives of 11 military members and three drug agents in the deadliest day for the U.S. mission in Afghanistan in more than four years.
Four Marines who were based at Camp Pendleton died in an early morning helicopter colliison, and another two were injured.
Service members in AH-1W Super Cobra and a UH-1N Huey helicopters in Afghanistan were involved in the crash, according to the Marine Corps Times. "Marine Light Attack Squadron 169, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., is the only Marine squadron currently operating Super Cobras and Hueys in Afghanistan," reported the military newspaper.
The names of those killed or injured in the incidents have not yet been officially released, but a paper in Massachusetts reported that Marine Capt. Kyle VanDeGiesen was among those killed. VanDeGiesen was a military pilot stationed at Camp Pendleton, his family told the Sun Chronicle newspaper in Massachusetts. The paper reported that VanDeGiesen was a 1998 grad of North Attleboro High School, where he was the football team's quarterback.
VanDeGiesen 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."
In the deadliest crash, a helicopter went down in the west of the country after leaving the scene of a firefight, killing 10 Americans — seven troops and three Drug Enforcement Administration agents. Eleven American troops, one U.S. civilian and 14 Afghans were also injured.
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.