Tucson soldier dies of Afghanistan wounds
A solider from Tucson died in Texas on Tuesday of wounds he suffered last week during an attack in Afghanistan, officials said Thursday.
Command Sgt. Maj. Martin R. Barreras, 49, died at San Antonio Military Medical Center, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, the Defense Department announced. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, Fort Bliss, Texas.
Barreras was wounded in an attack last Tuesday in Harat Province, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire, a DOD news release said.
Including Barreras, 54 troops with Southern Arizona connections have been killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — 23 in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion of that country.
"Our nation is forever indebted to individuals like Sgt. Maj. Barreras, who knowingly, selflessly and daily risk their lives to protect our nation and preserve our freedoms," said Gov. Jan Brewer in a news release. "As we mourn this American hero, let us always honor all of our nation’s men and women in uniform with our eternal gratitude and admiration."
Brewer ordered state flags be flown at half-staff on Friday from sunrise to sunset out of respect for Barreras.
Barreras, a graduate of Sunnyside High School, served in the Marine Corps for five years before enlisting in the Army, a news release from his unit said.
Born in 1964 in New Mexico, Barreras joined the Army in 1988. his unit said.
He served 22 years as an Army Ranger, with multiple combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, "as well as Operation Just Cause, Operation Restore/Uphold Democracy and other Special Operations contingency
missions," his unit said.
From the release:
Following his assignment with the 75th Ranger Regiment, he served as the command sergeant major of the United States Army Marksmanship Unit from August 2009 to August 2012.
In March 2013, he was assigned as the senior enlisted advisor for the 2nd Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, and deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in December 2013.
"Command Sgt. Major Barreras was my friend and battle buddy," his commanding officer, Lt. Col. Edward Brady, said in the release. "I've spent more time with him than my wife since I've taken command. I believe that I was the luckiest battalion commander in the Army to have him as my [Command Sergeant Major]."
"While every soldier in this formation is extremely saddened by his loss, his Bobcats are doing exactly what he would expect of us: continuing on with the mission and taking the fight to the enemy," said Brady. "This man would do absolutely anything and everything to ensure his soldiers came home safely."
Barreras is survived by a wife, two daughters and a son, the release from his unit said.
Barreras's death "is a reminder that although the United States is winding down our combat role in Afghanistan, we still have men and women who are placing themselves in harm's way every day," U.S. Rep. Ron Barber said in a news release. "I thank each one of them, as well as their families, for their service and for their sacrifice."
"Command Sgt. Maj. Barreras was a member of the 1st Armored Division – 'Old Ironsides' – which has a proud role in our nation's military history, dating back to before World War II," Barber said. "I was in Afghanistan a few weeks ago, and I returned even more deeply impressed by the dedication and commitment of all members of our armed forces. We cannot thank them enough for what they are doing."
Barreras' awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with valor device, Bronze Star Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Purple Heart with one oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Army Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Good Conduct Medal - eight award, Marine Good Conduct Medal, two Armed Forces Expeditionary Medals one with Bronze Arrowhead, Iraqi Campaign Medal with three stars, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with four stars, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Medal with one star, Humanitarian Service Medal with one star, NCO Professional Development Ribbon - fourth award, Overseas Service Ribbon with three numerals, NATO Medal, two Joint Meritorious Service Awards, Valorous Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Army Superior Unit Award, Combat Infantryman's Badge with one star, Expert Infantryman's Badge, Ranger Tab, Master Parachutist Badge with bronze star, Military Freefall Badge, Pathfinder Badge, and German, Chilean, Guatemalan, Peruvian, and Brazilian Parachutist Badges.