4 Ind. National Guardsmen killed in Afghanistan

Jan 7, 2012, 11:53 PM

Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Four soldiers with an Indiana-based National Guard unit were killed in Afghanistan and a fifth was injured when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb as they were working to clear a supply route of the improvised bombs, guard officials said Saturday.

Indiana Adjutant General Martin Umbarger said the four members of the Valparaiso-based 713th Engineer Company died Thursday morning in southern Afghanistan. He said all of the men were combat engineers who specialized in clearing major supply routes.

The blast occurred as their vehicle traveled along a road, scouting for signs of roadside bombs and other potential problems convoys might encounter as the move supplies in the decade-long war in Afghanistan, Umbarger said.

“Their mission is to keep the major supply routes clear of all obstacles for the convoys. And what that means is they’re the first ones to go out to make sure the route can be used, so it’s a very important mission _ but it’s also extremely dangerous,” he told The Associated Press.

The four men killed were identified as: Staff Sgt. Jonathan M. Metzger, 32, of Indianapolis, Spc. Brian J. Leonhardt, 21, of Merrillville, Ind., Spc. Robert J. Tauteris Jr., 44, of Hamlet, Ind., and Spc. Christopher A. Patterson, 20, of Aurora, Ill.

A fifth soldier injured in the blast, Pvt. Douglas Rachowicz, 29, of Hammond, Ind., was initially treated at a military base hospital in Kandahar before being airlifted to the U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, Umbarger said.

Tauteris’ uncle, Ed Tauteris of North Judson, Ind., said the family has been devastated by the death.

He said his nephew, who grew up in rural northwestern Indiana’s Starke County and graduated from North Judson High School, was a loving, attentive father to his two sons, Robert Tauteris III and Matthew.

“He was great father who loved his kids, took very good care of them. He was a great provider. He’d work seven days a week, come home and take his kids fishing, hunting, to baseball, stuff like that,” he said.

Ed Tauteris, 69, said his nephew reenlisted in the National Guard after his 21-year-old son, Robert III joined up and was sent to Afghanistan. He said his nephew had hoped he might be able to keep his son safe during his deployment.

He said Robert Tauteris III, who was still in Afghanistan when his father was killed, accompanied his father’s body back to the U.S.

“He flew home with his dad. That poor kid. I feel so bad for him,” he said.

Umbarger said the four soldiers’ deaths were the greatest number of Indiana guards since March 2005, when four members of the Indianapolis-based 76th Infantry Brigade died when a land mine exploded under their military vehicle about 30 miles south of the Afghan capital of Kabul.

Gov. Mitch Daniels said in a statement that Umbarger called him Saturday morning to tell him of the deaths. The governor said he’s praying for the soldiers’ families.

” I received from the adjutant general the news a person in my job dreads the most, that we have lost soldiers in combat. I had begun to hope that I had received the last such phone call, and cannot convey the sadness which it instantly brought,” Daniels said.

“My prayers are joined with those of millions of Hoosiers who will hear this terrible news with deep grief but also with gratitude for the courage of those we have lost, and pride that we come from a state that produces men such as these,” he said.

Umbarger said the four soldiers’ families were informed Friday of the deaths, and the last family members were told the news Friday night. He said he’s “humbled and honored” by the courage of the nation’s service members and said the sacrifices of the four men won’t be forgotten.

“I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of these brave citizen-soldiers,” he said in a statement. “We will honor their sacrifice and always remember them.”

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

FILE - President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden...

Associated Press

Biden’s focus on bashing Trump takes a page from the winning Obama and Bush reelection playbooks

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s campaign manager recently sent a fundraising email meant to reassure supporters worried about the Democrat’s reelection chances, urging them to take a “quick walk down memory lane.” Julie Chavez Rodriguez noted that many Democrats 12 years ago questioned whether President Barack Obama would win a second term. Biden was […]

1 hour ago

FILE - Asylum-seekers walk to a U.S. Border Patrol van after crossing the nearby border with Mexico...

Associated Press

Major changes to US immigration policy are under discussion. What are they and what could they mean?

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress is discussing changes to the immigration system in exchange for providing money to Ukraine in its fight against Russia and Israel for the war with Hamas. President Joe Biden has said he is willing to make “significant compromises on the border” to meet Republican demands that the assistance be tied to […]

2 hours ago

In this August 2023 photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, two missile launch officers, or missileer...

Associated Press

A gigantic new ICBM will take US nuclear missiles out of the Cold War-era but add 21st-century risks

F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. (AP) — The control stations for America’s nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles have a sort of 1980s retro look, with computing panels in sea foam green, bad lighting and chunky control switches, including a critical one that says “launch.” Those underground capsules are about to be demolished and the missile […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Elon Musk restores X account of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones

Elon Musk has restored the X account of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones following a poll on the social media platform formerly known as Twitter that came out in favor of the Infowars host who repeatedly called the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting a hoax. It poses new uncertainty for advertisers, who have fled X over […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Heavy fighting across Gaza as Israel presses ahead with renewed US military and diplomatic support

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Heavy fighting raged overnight and into Sunday across Gaza, including in the devastated north, as Israel pressed ahead with its offensive after the U.S. blocked the latest international push for a cease-fire and rushed more munitions to its close ally. Israel has faced rising international outrage and calls for […]

7 hours ago

Pauline Golodoff, left, and George Kudrin hold an iPad featuring images of their deceased spouses, ...

Associated Press

Death of last surviving Alaskan taken by Japan during WWII rekindles memories of forgotten battle

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Gregory Golodoff spent most of his years on a quiet Alaska island, living an ordinary life, managing a co-op store, fishing for crab and serving as the village council president. But Golodoff’s recent death at the age of 84 has reopened a chapter of American history and stirred up memories of […]

10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @KTAR923...

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.


Dierdre Woodruff

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Follow @KTAR923...

The 2023 Diamondbacks are a good example to count on the underdog

The Arizona Diamondbacks made the World Series as a surprise. That they made the playoffs at all, got past the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Wild Card round, swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS and won two road games in Philadelphia to close out a full seven-game NLCS went against every expectation. Now, […]

4 Ind. National Guardsmen killed in Afghanistan