The 4-25 lost its first soldier of the deployment this week. It's a milestone the commanders and unit had to prepare for and most likely anticipated, but it's still one that weighs heavily on them.
I was already scheduled to sit down with Col. Morris Goins and Command Sgt. Maj. Terry Gardner today, but after the news about the death of Specialist Jeffery Lee White Jr., and other five soldiers injured in Tuesday's IED attack, it was even more important to talk with the two about the mission here in Afghanistan.
Col. Goins was very up front with the fact that among thousands of soldiers in a warzone there are bound to be some casualties. But it was clear that he took very seriously his responsibility to look out for these young soldiers.
Goins has bandages on his fingers to prove his passion for his troops. He says he broke his knuckles recently after pounding his fist on a table upon finding out some of his soldiers were put in danger and only a couple of people knew about the mission.
Goins says White's death is like the death of a family member.
"It leaves a mark on you you'll never forget," he said. "You won't. But soldiers are resilient. They get after what they came here to get after. Specialist White expects us to, as we say, "man up" and continue to get after what we came here to do. So we will not let him down."
Memorial plans for Specialist White are still being made.
Our news story about White's death and the injuries of five other soldiers with the 4-25 is available here.