A “fun run” on the Bagram Airfield NATO air base north of Kabul in Afghanistan turned into an unspeakable tragedy Saturday (local time) as two American soldiers — one of them Tyler Iubelt from Tamaroa, Illinois — and two American contractors were killed by a suicide bomber.
Another 16 soldiers were injured in the attack.
Tyler Iubelt, 20, grew up in Tamaroa, just north of Du Quoin. He attended the Tamaroa grade school, and graduated in 2015 from Pinckneyville Community High School.
He went straight into the U.S. Army after graduation.
Iubelt is the son of Charlotte (Shon) Loquasto of Nashville and Mike (Corrie) Iubelt, of Newburgh, Indiana. He was married to the former Shelby Crews of Du Quoin and the couple has an infant girl, Violet.
Iubelt’s service to the military was his life and he had no other immediate plans for his future.
He is the third Perry County resident killed in the Middle East since American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan began. The first was Lance Corporal Drew Uhles, 20, of Du Quoin, killed in September 2004 in Anbar province in Iraq when he was struck by shrapnel from an explosive device.
The second was Wyatt Eisenhower of Pinckneyville, killed on May 19, 2005 during fighting in Iraq. He was 26.
The Iubelt family is working with the U.S. military to have their son’s body returned to southern Illinois for funeral services. Members of the family were to meet with directors at the Searby Funeral Homes of Tamaroa and Du Quoin on Monday morning, as well as begin talking with military officials. That process could take several days.
Bagram Airfield has been targeted by militants in the past, but this is the first time a bomb has exploded inside the base.
Congressional sources said a man wearing a suicide vest got onto the base. He exploded the bomb just as servicemen were completing an exercise run and were heading for the base dining hall. Besides the 16 Americans injured, a Polish soldier was too.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter told The Associated Press late Saturday that protecting American forces in the Middle East is a top priority.
“We will investigate this tragedy to determine any steps we can take to improve it,” Carter said. “For those who carried out this attack, my message is simple — we will not be deterred in our mission to protect our homeland and help Afghanistan secure its own future.”
The attack took place at 5:30 a.m. local time as people were gathering for a post-Veterans day fun run. According to The Associated Press, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in an afternoon tweet.
“To the family and friends of those who lost their lives today, we share your loss and our thoughts are with you,” U.S. Army General John W. Nicholson said in a statement. “We offer you our deepest condolences. For the family and friends of those wounded in today’s attack, let me assure you they are receiving the best care possible and we will keep them in our thoughts today.”