U.S. names dead from Afghan ambush

McClatchy NewspapersSeptember 10, 2009 

KABUL, Afghanistan — Navy medical corpsman James Layton, of Riverbank, Calif., had been ministering first aid to wounded Marine Lt. Michael Johnson, of Virginia Beach, Va., when both were killed Tuesday under a volley of insurgent bullets in Afghanistan's eastern Kunar province.

"If we leave this house, the people in the house in front of us will shoot us," were the last words that Marine Staff Sgt. Aaron Kenefick, of Roswell, Ga., was heard calling into his radio before it went silent. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Edwin W. Johnson, Jr., of Columbus, Ga., died alongside them.

Layton was 22; Michael Johnson, 25; Edwin Johnson, 31; and Kenefick, 30.

The four men, identified by the Navy and Marines Thursday, were at the front of a column that had been heading on foot into the small village of Ganjgal in eastern Kunar province, close to the Pakistan border.

They were on a training mission with Afghan forces, who were to search the village for weapons and then meet village elders under an agreement to establish government authority there. Insurgents had set up positions in the village and in the mountains on either side and apparently attacked as the men reached the first compound.

Nine Afghans, eight of them security forces and one an interpreter for the Marine commander, were killed. Three Americans and 19 Afghans were wounded.

Layton, a petty officer third class, apparently had been applying medical aid when he and Michael Johnson came under fierce attack, Marine Cpl. Dakota Meyer, 21, of Greensburg, Ky., told McClatchy. He and others said they'd found the wrappings of bandages and other medical gear strewn around Layton and Johnson.

A McClatchy reporter who was embedded with the Marine unit was farther back in the column, about 250 yards from the front, when the ambush began.

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McClatchy Newspapers 2009

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