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Two Connecticut soldiers assigned to the same base in Washington State have been killed by roadside bombs in Afghanistan within two weeks.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Dae Han Park, 36, of Watertown and Army Spec. David R. Fahey Jr., 23, of Norwalk were both in Afghanistan for the first time with units assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.
A member of the Special Forces, Park was killed Saturday when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device near Kajran, Daykundi, Afghanistan, the Department of Defense said Monday.
A military police officer, Fahey was killed Feb. 28 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device.
"We are reminded of the toll war exacts on this country and military families, and how important it is to thank our soldiers for the work they are doing," Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement Monday. "We pray for their safe return."
Close to 1,400 service members have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001, according to Defense Department figures. Malloy ordered the Connecticut and U.S. flags lowered to half staff until Park's funeral. He said Park is "a hero who died serving his country and he will be honored and remembered as such."
Park was assigned to Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne). This was his fourth deployment in support of operations overseas.
A graduate of Watertown High School, Park enlisted in the Army in 1998 as an infantryman. He earned his ranger qualification tab in 2000, then deployed to Iraq in 2003 as a rifle squad leader, according to the Army.
In 2006, Park completed a course to join the Army's Special Forces and was assigned to his current unit as a Special Forces communications sergeant. He served in Bangladesh, Iraq, the Philippines, Cambodia, India and Afghanistan.
Park received numerous awards and decorations including the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal and Army Achievement Medal. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.
He is survived by his wife, Mi Kyong Park, daughters Niya and Sadie, parents Joseph and Bonnie Schneider of Thomaston, and sister and brother, Katie and Saejin of Watertown, according to the Army. He lived in Lacey, Wash.