Gov. David Paterson has ordered flags on state buildings across New York flown at half-staff to honour soldiers from New York who are killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A spokesman for the governor says the new policy began Wednesday when the flag was lowered for three Fort Drum soldiers killed in Iraq on June 4 near Sharqat. On Monday, flags will be lowered again for Staff Sgt. Tyler Pickett, who was killed in action in Kirkuk Province in Iraq on June 8.
Although the four dead soldiers were from other states, they were all assigned to the 10th Mountain Division and stationed at Fort Drum in northern New York. Spokesman Morgan Hook says Paterson believes even if a soldier is from another state, if they are serving with a New York-based unit, that makes them a New Yorker.
Gov. David Paterson has directed that flags on New York state government buildings be flown at half-staff Wednesday in honour of SPC. Jason M. Johnston, who became Albion’s first casualty of war Saturday.
Johnston, 24, was killed while serving in Arghandab, Afghanistan. A Department of Defense official confirmed Johnston’s death, stating that he died of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.
“All New Yorkers mourn the death of this brave young soldier,” Paterson said. “We join with the family, friends and fellow soldiers of Specialist Johnston in grieving his death. But we also join with them in honoring his patriotism and dedication to his mission and to our nation.”
Johnston was assigned to the second Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, fourth Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C.