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2nd Utahn among 30 dead in Afghan copter attack
Taylorsville • A Taylorsville man, the second Navy SEAL from Utah killed in the deadliest incident involving coalition forces yet in the Afghan war, died "doing what he loved," his family said in a statement Wednesday.
Jared William Day, whose 29th birthday is this month, and fellow Navy SEAL Jason Workman, 32, of Blanding, were the fifth and sixth Utahns to die in Afghanistan since July 1.
Workman's family earlier this week identified him as one of the SEALs killed Saturday when the Chinook helicopter carrying 38 U.S. and Afghan forces went down in eastern Afghanistan's Wardak province, apparently shot down by insurgents. Day's family announced Wednesday that he, too, was among those killed.
Both Utah families were at Dover Air Force Base on Tuesday when the remains of the 30 American servicemen were returned to the United States. President Barack Obama spoke with the families in a private meeting.
On Wednesday, military officials announced that two days earlier, U.S. forces killed the insurgents they believe were responsible for shooting down the Chinook helicopter, which was carrying special operations forces to a firefight between Army Rangers and insurgents in a dangerous part of the province.
Though officials believe a Taliban rocket-propelled grenade brought down the chopper, an investigation is under way that will also look at the possibility of small-arms fire.
The 38 men included 17 SEALs, five Navy special operations troops who support the SEALs, three Air Force airmen, a five-member Army air crew, seven Afghan commandos and an Afghan interpreter.
A man at the Day home in Taylorsville on Wednesday evening said the family declined to comment, but he gave a statement saying Day died alongside friends, "some of the bravest men this world has ever known."
Large American flags lined the street leading up to the Day home. In the front window hung a Gold Star banner, symbolizing families who have lost someone in the line of duty. American and Navy flags hung near the front door.
Next-door neighbor Brittany Searle was saddened when she learned of Day's death.
"Gosh that just breaks my heart," she said. "This is just devastating."
She said she had never met Jared Day, but said his parents are very nice people, who are patriotic and spoke highly about their son's military service and time in the SEALs.
"That was one of the first things I knew about [his mother]," Searle said. "She was proud of her son."
Day enlisted in the Navy in 2002 "because he loved this country, the people who live here, and the freedoms we all have," the family statement said. He had a "fierce sense of humor," his family said.
A former neighbor, Dione Goodfellow, called the Day family "a great family and a very close family." Day had one older sister.
When she last spoke with Day's mother, Karolyn Day, Goodfellow learned he had enlisted in the Navy. "He was loving it and he was growing up."
Jared Day served in various commands and task forces, and deployed numerous times to Africa, Asia and the Middle East, earning many awards and decorations for valor, combat and meritorious service, the family said.
Jonathan Bennion and his fiancée, Brandy Masse, who live nearby, said they watched three military personnel in full uniform arrive at the Days' home Sunday morning.
"That is not good," Masse said she thought at the time. "That next night, there was all the flags, and I just knew."
Day was an Information Systems Technician First Class, and served as a tactical communicator for the elite Naval Special Warfare Development Group, his family said. That's the same group, also known as SEAL Team 6, responsible for killing Osama bin Laden in Pakistan last May.
The Day family statement called it an honor to meet Obama and military leaders at Dover on Tuesday.
"Receiving a hug from President Obama was impactful, as well as having a few minutes of his undivided attention to talk about Jared and our love for him. It was an honor to hear praise for our son and brother, as well as for his friends from the Commander in Chief himself."
Three young Utah servicemen died in July.
Preston J. Suter, 22, of Sandy, died July 5 in Paktia province when his Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb. Five days later, 22-year-old Marine Norberto Mendez Hernandez of Logan, was shot in the back of the head while on patrol in Helmand province. On July 16, Army Reservist Raphael Arruda of South Ogden, 21, died when his patrol vehicle was hit by an explosive device. Marine Daniel Gurr, 21, of Vernal, died Friday in Helmand province when he was struck by small arms fire while on patrol.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.