Nation & World

Bragg paratroopers killed

Two paratroopers based at Fort Bragg died this past week in Afghanistan after a roadside bomb exploded.

Staff Sgt. Casey Combs, 28, from Auburn, Wash., and Sgt. David Stephens, 28, of Tullahoma, Tenn., were wounded near Miri, a spokeswoman with the Army's 82nd Airborne Division said Saturday.

Stephens, a combat medic, was an avid reader of classics and political and history books. He was such a big fan of Bob Dylan that his wife, Megan Stephens, filled an iPod with the musician's songs and sent it to Stephens.

"Sergeant Stephens was an inspiration to all the paratroopers of his unit," said 1st Lt. Dennis Curry, 2-508th Rear Detachment commander. "He always volunteered to help others."

Combs, an indirect fire infantryman in the 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd, was a construction foreman before he joined the Army in 2002.

"When asked why he joined the Army in the first place, he said it was because of September 11th," said Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Burrill. "He was angry that someone would try to attack his country like that, and he wanted to serve his country."

With the deaths of Stephens and Combs, the Fort Bragg-based division has lost six paratroopers over the past week.

The 3,700 members of the task force that Combs and Stephens served with held a moment of silence Thursday for the paratroopers.

Stephens joined the Army in 2005. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion of the 4th Brigade Combat Team. In addition to his wife, Megan of Spring Lake, Stephens is survived by a 3-month-old daughter and his father, Charles Stephens of Tullahoma, Tenn.

Stephens has received many awards and decorations, including a Bronze Star Medal.

Combs is survived by his wife, Amber Combs, daughter, Hallie and son, Trenton, all of Fayetteville; his father, Robert Combs of Orting, Wash.; and his mother, Lillian Combs of Auburn, Wash.

The Bronze Star Medal is among his awards and decorations.