Guardsman killed in Afghanistan

03/30/06 12:00AM By Neal Charnoff
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(Host) A firefight at a military base in Afghanistan has claimed the life of a Vermont National Guardsman.

Sergeant First Class John Thomas Stone of Tunbridge is the first Vermonter to be killed in Afghanistan.

VPR's Neal Charnoff reports:

(Charnoff) Tom Stone was known to his fellow soldiers as "Stony", and "Doc". He had trained to be a medic as a member of the Army reserve.

His death was announced by Vermont Adjutant General Martha Rainvlle Wedneday night. She said that Stone was stationed with Task Force Catamount at a coalition base about 110 miles north of Kandahar. According to Rainville, the base came under attack early Wednesday morning.

(Rainville) "Sergeant 1st Class Stone was engaged in the training mission of Task Force Catamount, he was positioned at this forward operating base when they came under attack. He was backing up some soldiers who were responding to the attack in defense of the base when he was hit by small arms fire. He died at the scene. Also in that attack, another member of Task Force Catamount who was a member of the Tennessee National Guard, was seriously injured, and we are busy trying to find out his status at this time. The attack also claimed the life of a Canadian service member, three other Canadians were wounded, and also claimed the lives of six of the Afghan soldiers, all working in defense of the forward operating base."

(Charnoff) Sgt. Stone grew up in Pomfret. He joined the U.S. Army in 1971 after graduating from Woodstock Union High School.

Stone joined the Vermont National Guard in 1982, and retired in 1997. He returned to the Guard in 2000 as a member of the 15th Civil Support Team.

This was Sgt. Stone's third voluntary deployment to Afghanistan. His mission as an Embedded Team Trainer was to help mentor and train the Afghan National Army.

Announcing the death of the Sgt., Adjutant General Martha Rainville read from a citation Stone received during his second deployment.

(Rainville) "Sgt. 1st Class Stone's fearlessness, warrior spirit and calming demeanor under extreme duress belay his compassion and innate resolve to ease the suffering of innocents in this desperate nation."

(Charnoff) General Rainville praised Sgt Stone as a dedicated medic who treated many Afghan children and civilians. She said Stone was highly respected and admired by his fellow soldiers.

(Rainville) "He was described by one officer as a poet warrior, someone who transcends many different worlds to reach out to others around him and you can certainly see it in his service there, and in his relationships with his fellow soldiers. He will be deeply missed by many, and again I would ask that Vermonters just keep his family in their thoughts and prayers, and reach and support his fellow solders."

(Charnoff) Sgt. 1st Class Tom Stone was 53. He is survived by his sister Roberta Harley of Sarasota, Florida, and his longtime life-partner, Rose Loving of Tunbridge, Vermont. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.

For VPR News, I'm Neal Charnoff in Colchester.
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