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Three soldiers from Watertown Army Reserve unit killed in Afghanistan Saturday


Three New York soldiers from an Army Reserve unit based in Watertown were killed in an improvised explosive device attack Saturday in the Paktia province of Afghanistan.

The three soldiers killed were Staff Sgt. Dain T. Venne, 29, of Port Henry; Spc. Brett E. Gornewicz, 27, of Alden; and Spc. Ryan P. Jayne, 22, of Campbell. All three were combat engineers.

According to a released statement from their unit, the three were killed at about 1:30 p.m. as they conducted a routine route-clearing patrol.

Sgt. Venne, a military member for 10 years and nine months, was on his fourth deployment. He was a graduate of Moriah Central School and was attending St. Lawrence University when the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks occurred. Mr. Venne enlisted in the military soon thereafter.

Karl K. Schonberg, a government professor at St. Lawrence University, had Staff Sgt. Venne in a class.

“I remember him being a very gregarious, outgoing, big personality,” he said. “A guy with a lot of friends who seemed to enjoy himself. He was a pleasure to have in class.”

Spc. Gornewicz, who served nearly seven years in the military, was on his third deployment. Spc. Jayne, who had served about two years, was on his second deployment.

The soldiers were assigned to the 479th Engineering Battalion, Watertown, of the 411th Engineering Brigade, New Windsor. In theater, they had been attached to the 444th Engineer Company, 178th Engineer Battalion, 412th Theater Engineer Command, Oswego.

“Our condolence and prayers go out to the families of these soldiers killed in this IED incident,” said Maj. Gen. William Buckler Jr., commander of the 412th Theater Engineer Command, in a released statement confirming the deaths. “We are here to support them.”

The unit’s statement said funeral arrangements were unavailable as of Monday afternoon. A released statement from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office said he had directed flags at state government buildings to be flown at half-staff in their honor.

Staff writer Christopher Robbins contributed to this story.

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