An Afghan soldier fired at suspected Taliban militants as US soldiers crouched beside him at an outpost in Kandahar Province. The Taliban said they killed a US sailor in a firefight. (Bob Strong/Reuters)
Sailor who vanished from eastern Afghan province is dead
Taliban claim they captured the other missing instructor
KABUL, Afghanistan — One of two US sailors missing in Afghanistan since last week — a 30-year-old father of two — has been confirmed dead and his body recovered, a NATO spokesman said yesterday.
The search continues for the other missing sailor, said Lieutenant Colonel Todd Breasseale, a spokesman for NATO and US forces in Afghanistan.
The two Navy personnel went missing Friday in the eastern province of Logar after their armored sport utility vehicle was seen driving into a Taliban-held area. The Taliban have said it killed one of the two men in a firefight, captured the other, and are holding him in a “safe place.’’
In a statement, the NATO-led command said that the body was recovered Sunday after an extensive search and that the coalition “holds the captors accountable for the safety and proper treatment of our missing service member.’’
NATO officials were unable to say what the two service members were doing in such a dangerous part of eastern Afghanistan.
The sailors were instructors at a counterinsurgency school for Afghan security forces, according to senior military officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case. The school was based in Kabul and had classrooms outside the capital, but they were never assigned anywhere near where the body of the sailor was recovered, the officials said.
The Pentagon identified the dead sailor as Petty Officer Second Class Justin McNeley, 30, of Wheat Ridge, Colo., and the missing sailor as Petty Officer Third Class Jarod Newlove, 25, of Renton, Wash. The Pentagon listed Newlove’s whereabouts as unknown and is not confirming he was captured.
Jim Kerr, a Colorado legislator from the Denver suburb of Littleton, said McNeley was his wife’s nephew. McNeley was from Colorado but moved to Kingman, Ariz., in 2004, three years after he joined the Navy. His mother lives in Kingman and his father is a fire official in Encinitas, Calif.
Kerr told The Denver Post that McNeley, a noncommissioned officer and father of two sons, was due to return home next month.
The only confirmed American service member in Taliban captivity is Specialist Bowe Bergdahl of Hailey, Idaho, who disappeared June 30, 2009, in Paktika Province. Bergdahl has since been shown in Taliban videos online.