Flags to be lowered to half-staff in honor of NC-born soldier killed in Afghanistan

Sgt. 1st Class Javier Jaguar Gutierrez (Photo: Department of Defense)

RALEIGH, NC (WWAY/WBTV/AP) — North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper Monday ordered US and NC flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of Sgt. 1st Class Javier Jaguar Gutierrez, who was killed in a so-called insider attack in eastern Afghanistan late Saturday night.

The order for flags to be lowered at state facilities goes into effect on Monday and remain at half-staff through sunset on Sunday, Feb. 16.

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“We are grateful for Sgt. Gutierrez’s service, and our prayers are with his loved ones and all who are mourning,” Cooper said in a statement released Monday.

As a show of respect, individuals, businesses, schools, municipalities, counties and other government subdivisions are encouraged to fly the flag at half-staff for the duration of the order.

Sgt. Gutierrez, 28, and Sgt. 1st Class Antonio Rey Rodriguez, 28, died February 8, 2020 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, as a result of wounds sustained while engaged in combat operations.

Both soldiers were assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

U.S. officials say an Afghan dressed in an Afghan army uniform opened fire late Saturday in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province.

A member of the Nangarhar Provincial Council, Ajmal Omer, tells The Associated Press the gunman was killed. It isn’t clear if the gunman was an insurgent infiltrator or rogue Afghan military personnel.

Sgt. Gutierrez was born in Jacksonville and enlisted in the Army in 2009 as an infantryman stationed at Fort Bragg.

“Sgt. 1st Class Gutierrez’ was a warrior that exemplified selfless service and a commitment to the mission, both values that we embody here in the 7th Special Forces Group,” said Col. John W. Sannes, 7th Special Forces Group Commander. “Our priority now is to take care of his family and teammates, we will provide the best possible care possible during these trying times.”

Gutierrez attended the Special Forces Assessment and Selection at Fort Bragg in 2012 and was selected to attend the Special Forces Qualification Course.

He graduated in 2015 as a Special Forces Communications Sergeant and was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

Gutierrez deployed once to Iraq while assigned to 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment and once to Afghanistan while assigned to 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne).

Six U.S. service members have been killed in Afghanistan this year. Last year, 22 U.S. service personnel died from “hostile” action.