A Green Beret and EOD specialist killed in combat in Afghanistan

Master Sgt. Michael Riley and Sgt. James Johnston
Master Sgt. Michael Riley and Sgt. James Johnston were killed in action in Afghanistan on Tuesday. (U.S. Army)

Two American special forces operatives killed in Afghanistan this week were identified as sergeants originally from central New York and Germany, the Pentagon revealed on Thursday.

Army Master Sgt. Micheal B. Riley, 32, and Sgt. James G. Johnston, 24, died Tuesday in combat in the Afghan province of Uruzgan, officials said. According to the reports, they sustained injuries from small arms fire while conducting combat operations in Uruzgan province.

Riley, originally from Heilbronn, Germany, was assigned to then 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) out of Fort Carson, Colorado. Johnston, originally from Trumansburg, New York, came from the 79th Ordnance Battalion (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), 71st Ordnance Group, stationed in Fort Hood, Texas.

Both Riley and Johnson had previous experience in combat, and both of them were awarded medals for their distinguished service.

“Mike was an experienced Special Forces noncommissioned officer and the veteran of five previous deployments to Afghanistan,” Col. Lawrence G. Ferguson, the commander of the 10th Special Forces Group, said in a statement Thursday. “We will honor his service and sacrifice as we remain steadfast in our commitment to our mission.”

Riley awards include the Bronze Star and the Meritorious Service Medal. He first joined the Army in 2006.

“It is with a heavy heart that we mourn the passing of Sgt. James Johnston. He was the epitome of what we as soldiers all aspire to be: intelligent, trained, always ready. We will honor his service and his sacrifice to this nation as we continue to protect others from explosive hazards around the world,” Lt. Col. Stacy M. Enyeart, his battalion commander, said in a release Thursday.

Johnston enlisted in 2013, according to the release, and had received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.