Rast may have been killed by friendly-firePublished 8:52pm Monday, April 11, 2011
The death of a Niles sailor in Afghanistan Wednesday is being investigated as a possible friendly-fire incident, CNN reported Monday night.
Seaman Benjamin Rast, 23, died while conducting a dismounted patrol northeast of Patrol Base Alcatraz, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Rast was assigned as a hospitalman to the 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. He was stationed at Naval Medical Center, Expeditionary Medical Force Detachment, San Diego, Calif.
Also killed in the incident was Marine Staff Sgt. Jeremy Smith, assigned to the 4th Marine Division of Houston.
According to CNN, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said the U.S. military believes the men were inadvertently killed by a U.S. military drone outside Sangin.
Rast was assigned in November 2010 to a Marine unit bound for Afghanistan. His awards include the National Defense Service Medal, the Pistol Markmanship Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
The incident is still under investigation by the military.
Rast was a 2006 Brandywine High School graduate. He had been living in San Diego for about a year.
His father, Robert Rast of South Bend, said Friday he is “extremely proud” of his son.
According to Rast’s former long-time girlfriend, Nicole Ignowski, he went to boot camp in April 2009 in Chicago, and then graduated from medic training before heading to a Marines base in San Diego.
Rast volunteered for the tour in Afghanistan, and left in February.
Funeral plans have yet to be announced, although Robert Rast said he wanted to have a memorial service at Brandywine High School.