OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A soldier from Washington state who was killed in Afghanistan over the weekend gave his life in service of the United States, Gov. Jay Inslee said.
Army Sgt. Leandro A.S. Jasso, 25, died Saturday during combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan, Defense Department officials said Sunday. Jasso was from Leavenworth, Washington, and was assigned to 2nd Battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Inslee said in a statement that “we are profoundly grateful for his service and sacrifice.”
Jasso was wounded by small-arms fire and was treated and evacuated to the nearest medical treatment facility, where he died, said Lt. Col. Loren Bymer, an Army spokesman.
He was on his third deployment to Afghanistan after enlisting in the Army in 2012.
“Sgt. Jasso was a humble professional who placed the mission first, lived the Ranger Creed and will be deeply missed,” said Lt. Col. Rob McChrystal, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.
On Sunday, as news of Jasso’s death spread through Leavenworth, former teachers and friends recalled a quiet young man who enjoyed the discipline and experiences the Army provided, the Seattle Times reported.
They said everyone seemed to have a connection to the soldier in the Chelan County city of about 2,000 people.
“You hear the stories of kids enlisting and going off to war and then losing their life, but it really hits home with us, being a small town,” said Elia Ala’ilima-Daley, principal of Cascade High School, where Jasso graduated in 2012. “Everybody knows everyone.”
Andrea Brixey, a Cascade High teacher, had Jasso in her seventh-grade English class and said he liked to challenge the norms but never in a disrespectful way. She got an initial taste of that when, on the first day of school, he called her “Andrea” instead of “Ms. Brixey.”
“He wasn’t busy being a ringleader and trying to torment me. That was just how he rolled,” Brixey said. “He was never disruptive or difficult, but he always questioned authority on every level. But once he got the answers, he was the best kid to have on your team.”
Jasso enlisted in August 2012, about three months after graduating high school. Brixey said he told her it seemed like the smartest option with the most benefit. He was sent to Fort Benning, Georgia, before his assignment to Joint Base Lewis-McChord and deployments.
The Army seemed to suit him, according to Ala’ilima-Daley and Brixey. He liked traveling and meeting people from other parts of the world. But he didn’t talk about his time in war.
“He didn’t speak overtly about being in dangerous situations, but if you asked, he would make significant, unblinking eye contact,” Brixey said. “The things he didn’t say spoke volumes.”
Cascade High School will hold a moment of silence Monday. City leaders also are considering other ways to honor Jasso, Ala’ilima-Daley said.
“We are in mourning, but we want to bring our community together,” he said.