PORT HENRY -- Three U.S. Army Reservists from small towns in three different parts of upstate New York were killed in Afghanistan when a roadside bomb struck their vehicle, military officials said Monday.
The Department of Defense identified the soldiers as Staff Sgt. Dain Venne, 29, of Port Henry; Spc. Ryan Jayne, 22, of Campbell, Spc. Brett E. Gornewicz, 27, of Alden. They died of wounds suffered Saturday when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosion device in Paktia province, the Pentagon said.
All three were members of the Oswego-based 444th Engineer Co. and were assigned to the 178th Engineer Battalion of the Vicksburg, Miss.-based 412th Theater Engineer Command.
Lt. Col. Doril Sanders of the 412th TEC told The Associated Press that the three New Yorkers were combat engineers conducting “route-clearing” duties when an IED blasted their vehicle.
Venne was a volunteer firefighter in his hometown, located on the western shore of Lake Champlain in Essex County, 95 miles north of Albany. Earlier this year, he was hailed by his fire department for his life-saving actions in rescuing several stranded residents during severe flooding in August 2011. Since his unit had already deployed to Afghanistan, his father, longtime Moriah Town Justice Brian Venne, accepted the award on his son’s behalf.
“We are devastated, like everyone else, over these events,” Port Henry Fire Chief James Hughes told the Press-Republican of Plattsburgh. “He was an outstanding firefighter, a perfect gentleman. You couldn’t ask for a better person, better son; he was an overall good and decent human being.”
Jayne was from the Corning area in Steuben County, in the Southern Tier 75 miles south of Rochester. His father, Paul Jayne, tells local media outlets that his family is leaving Tuesday for Dover, Del., to meet the military plane bringing their son’s body back to the U.S.
WGRZ-TV reports that Gornewicz graduated in 2003 from Alden High School, a rural district 20 miles east of Buffalo, and graduated last year from Buffalo State College with a bachelor of science degree in industrial technology.
Funeral arrangements for the soldiers were pending.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered all flags on New York state buildings to be lowered to half-staff on Wednesday in honor of the soldiers.