Soldier from NJ among troops killed by drone strike
⚫ Sgt. William Jerome Rivers was a decorated soldier from NJ
⚫ He and two others were killed Sunday in Jordan
⚫ The military mourns while answering for attack
A decorated soldier from New Jersey was among three Army Reservists killed by a weekend drone strike on their base in Jordan near the Syrian border.
The Pentagon identified those killed in the attack as Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, 46; Spc. Kennedy Ladon Sanders, 24; and Spc. Breonna Alexsondria Moffett, 23. The three were assigned to the 926th Engineer Brigade based at Fort Moore, Georgia.
Rivers was first assigned to the 990th Engineer Company at Fort McGuire-Dix in New Jersey and was from Willingboro.
Gov. Murphy and U.S. Sen. Booker acknowledges loss
"I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Sergeant William Rivers of Willingboro, who was among three U.S. soldiers killed in the terrorist attack in Jordan this weekend. As parents, Tammy and I send our heartfelt sympathies to all three families who now face the unimaginable pain of losing a cherished loved one. As Americans, we share our gratitude for the soldiers’ bravery and sacrifice, and for the courage of every servicemember fighting terrorism at home and abroad, to whom we owe a debt we can never repay," Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement on Monday.
The governor added that he plans to sign an executive order to lower the flags to half-staff in Rivers' honor.
“Sergeant Rivers served with courage, honor, and a deep sense of duty, embodying the best of New Jersey and our nation," U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said in a statement on Monday. "His death is a profound loss to his family, friends, colleagues, and our entire country, and a reminder of the heavy debt we owe to our military families for their sacrifice."
“A grateful nation can never repay Sergeant William J. Rivers, Specialist Kennedy L. Sanders, and Specialist Breonna A. Moffett, and their families, but we can honor their lives by upholding the values they fought for. I extend my deepest condolences to their loved ones in this time of grief.”
How did strike happen?
U.S. forces may have mistaken an enemy drone for an American one and let it pass unchallenged, The Associated Press reported.
Aside from the soldiers killed, the Pentagon said more than 40 troops were wounded in the attack, most with cuts, bruises, brain injuries and similar wounds. Eight were medically evacuated, including three who were going to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. The other five, who suffered minor brain injuries, were expected to return to duty.
Asked if the failure to shoot down the enemy drone was “human error," Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh responded that the U.S. Central Command was still assessing the matter.
Serving his country
Rivers, whose last address was Carrollton, Georgia, enlisted in the Army Reserve in 2011 as an interior electrician, the Army Reserves said on Facebook.
His service to the country included a nine-month rotation in Iraq during Operation Inherent Resolve in 2018.
He was the recipient of the Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, two Army Reserve Component Overseas Training Ribbon, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with “M” Device, and the Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal with Campaign Star.
Loss leaves a mark
Lt. Gen. Jody J. Daniels, the chief of the Army Reserve, said the loss of Rivers, Moffett and Sanders "has left an indelible mark on the United States Army Reserve."
"On behalf of the U.S. Army Reserve, I share in the sorrow felt by their friends, family, and loved ones," Daniels said. "Their service and sacrifice will not be forgotten, and we are committed to supporting those left behind in the wake of this tragedy."