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NBC News: "Friendly Fire" to Blame in Arlington Marine's Death in Afghanistan

On Thursday, the Department of Defense issued a release stating, simply, that Marine Staff Sgt. Jeremy D. Smith -- a 26-year-old Arlington native -- died on Wednesday "while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan." The official release offered no cause of death and said only that "this incident is under investigation." A story Friday in the Star-Telegram, about the Martin High School graduate who served three tours of duty in Iraq, suggested that perhaps Smith was not killed by enemy fire.

This evening, NBC News confirms as much: According to Jim Miklaszewski, Smith and Navy Corpsman Benjamin Rast were killed in "in an apparent case of friendly fire" cause by a drone air strike. According to unnamed U.S. military officials, they were killed Wednesday after "a Hellfire missile fired from a U.S. Air Force Predator in what appears to be a case of mistaken identity ... Smith and Rast were part of a Marine unit moving in to reinforce fellow Marines under heavy fire from enemy forces outside Sangin in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan."

According to NBC, "It's believed that this is the first time that U.S. service members have been killed by a Predator in a friendly fire incident." Smith's father told the Fort Worth paper his son will be buried this week at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky