Senior military officers Tuesday praised two Army Rangers who died in Afghanistan on the weekend and two other military service members, but Pentagon leaders said their families’ $100,000 immediate death benefits will be delayed by the partial government shutdown.
The two Rangers, members of one of the U.S. military’s elite Special Forces command, were Sgt. Patrick C. Hawkins and Pfc. Cody J. Patterson. They died Sunday when a hidden bomb exploded while they were conducting combat operations in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan, the Pentagon said.
Also killed in the bomb blast by an “improvised explosive device” were 1 st Lt. Jennifer M. Moreno, an Army nurse, and Sgt. Joseph M. Peters, a special agent and crime scene technician with Army Criminal Investigations.
The four deceased warriors had ties to cities and towns across the United States, from Pennsylvania and Georgia, to Kansas, Missouri, California and Oregon.
Normally, the relatives of slain servicemen and servicewomen receive a cash payment of $100,000 within three days of their deaths.
But at a meeting Monday convened by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, civilian and military leaders of the Pentagon said they lack the authority to provide those benefits under the shutdown that began last week.
“All of the leaders noted that despite the recall of most civilians and the resumption of many activities across the Department of Defense, there are critical programs and benefits that remain halted,” Pentagon press secretary George Little said.
Hagel on Saturday announced plans to call back 400,000 Pentagon civilian employees, citing a measure Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed into law hours before the shutdown began after midnight Sept. 30.