Decorated soldier dies in combat in Afghanistan

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FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) -

A decorated Special Forces company sergeant major has died during combat in Afghanistan, U.S. military officials said Sunday.

James G. "Ryan" Sartor, 40, was killed Saturday during combat operations in Faryab Province, according to Lt. Col. Loren Bymer, spokesman for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

Sartor was from Teague, Texas, and was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group in Fort Carson, Colorado.

He joined the Army in 2001 as an infantryman and had deployed numerous times to Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a statement from Bymer. Sartor had received more than two dozen awards and decorations and will posthumously receive a Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

"We're incredibly saddened to learn of Sgt. Maj. James 'Ryan' Sartor's passing in Afghanistan. Ryan was a beloved warrior who epitomized the quiet professional," Col. Brian R. Rauen, commander of the 10th Special Forces Group, said in a statement. "He led his soldiers from the front and his presence will be terribly missed."

A statement from the Department of Defense said Sartor was injured by enemy small arms fire.

Bymer said he couldn't provide any further details about the circumstances that led to Sartor's death. The incident is under investigation.

A day earlier, in a telephone interview with The Associated Press, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said the militant group was behind the killing.

Mujahed said two U.S. service personnel were killed when Taliban militants attacked a tank in Sayed Abad district of central Wardak province, barely 70 kilometers (40 miles) south of the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Sartor's death was the only one reported by U.S. officials, and the Taliban often exaggerate their claims.

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