LOCUST VALLEY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Two men from New York were among the Marines killed in a roadside bombing Monday in Afghanistan.
Staff Sgt. Christopher Slutman, an FDNY firefighter, and Cpl. Robert Hendricks, a 25-year-old from Locust Valley, lost their lives in the bombing near their military base. Sgt. Benjamin Hines, 31, of York, Pennsylvania, was also killed.
U.S. officials said a convoy of American vehicles was passing a car on the side of the road when the car exploded, killing the service members. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
“Marine Forces Reserve is deeply saddened to confirm the death of three of our Marines who were killed in an attack while deployed to Afghanistan as part of Georgia Deployment Program-Resolute Support Mission. Our focus in the wake of this attack is to support the family, friends and loved ones of our fallen Marines. These Marines are honored for their extraordinary bravery and for their direct contribution to the defense of this nation,” the Marines said in a statement Wednesday. “The circumstances surrounding the attack are still under investigation, with no specific details yet available.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered flags to be flown at half staff in their honor.
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of two members of the family of New York, Cpl. Hendriks and FDNY member Staff Sgt. Slutman, while they were serving our country in Afghanistan,” he said in a statement. “Their deaths are a tragic reminder of the bravery and sacrifice of our service members, who put their lives in harm’s way to protect our values and way of life. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my condolences to their friends and loved ones, and I am directing that flags be lowered in their honor.”
Web Extra: FDNY Ladder 27 honors fallen firefighter Christopher Slutman:
A moving ceremony was held Tuesday outside Ladder Company 27 in the Bronx, where Slutman served as a firefighter before being deployed last spring.
“Everything he did, he did top notch with full effort. Like I said, he relocated here to fulfill his dream of being a New York City firefighter and shortly thereafter he enlisted in the Marine Corps,” said Bobby Eustace, of Ladder Co. 27. “He was a great man, good friend, phenomenal firefighter and great American.”
Slutman, 43, was a decorated 15-year veteran of the FDNY. In 2014, he was recognized for saving a woman from a Bronx fire.
“Came up here to his dream job with the FDNY… defended his country as a Marine and, unfortunately, gave his life in that capacity,” UFA President Gerard Fitzgerald said.
“He represents the very best of us, all the bravest of the brave,” FDNY Chief John Sudnick said. “We are forever grateful for his service. Our thoughts and our prayers go out to his family.”
Slutman leaves behind a wife and three young daughters.
“He was always positive, he was always doing things for people. So you felt good after you were with him. And if you were having a problem, he could help you,” said his father, Fletcher Slutman.
Web Extra: FDNY moment of silence for fallen Marines killed in Afghanistan:
Hendricks celebrated his 25th birthday last month and was expected to return home in a few weeks, his mother told CBS2. Now his younger brother, who followed him into service, will escort his remains back to Long Island.
“Monday evening, the knock on the door no parent ever should hear came. We are inconsolable and broken into a million pieces, but I am, and always will be, proud to call my sons United States Marines,” his mother said in a statement.
Hendricks graduated from Locust Valley High School in 2012.
“Our staff members remember his kindness, passion for service, and commitment to friends, family, and our country. Following graduation, he immediately enlisted in the Marines and sacrificed everything for others,” the school said in a statement. “As a school community, we understand that we are all able to be here today, to live our lives, and to have opportunities and experiences each day due to the sacrifices that have been made by Marine Corporal Robert Hendricks and other Americans serving in our armed forces.”
Funeral services for the men are pending.