WARWICK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff on Thursday in honor of New York Marine who was killed in Afghanistan.
Staff Sgt. Eric Christian of Warwick and another Marine, Cpl. David Sonka of Parker, Colo., were killed Saturday while conducting combat operations in the Farah province of Afghanistan, the Department of Defense said.
Military officials have not said how the two died, but Christian’s brother Philip Christian told local media they were training Afghan soldiers when one of them turned on the Americans and shot them during a patrol.
They were members of a Marine Corps Special Operations Battalion based at Camp Lejeune, N.C. Their deaths are under investigation, military officials said.
“I join with all New Yorkers in mourning the loss of Staff Sgt. Christian,” Cuomo said in a statement. “I extend my deepest sympathy to his family, his friends and his fellow Marines. We will honor his service and sacrifice and his dedication to our nation.”
Phillip Christian told Newsday his brother’s body will be flown to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Tuesday. The family will be there to meet the plane.
“We received a phone call from the base commander,” he said. “He said when Eric’s body was put on the plane, there were 150 Marines at full attention as the plane took off. He said he had never seen anything like that before.”
Christian grew up in Poughkeepsie and graduated from high school in Ramsey, N.J. His mother lives in Warwick on the New Jersey border.
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