Philomath Ranger among four killed preventing suicide bomber

PORTLAND, Ore. An Oregon soldier was among four who died Sunday while stopping a suicide bombing when their unit was attacked with an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.

The victim was identified Tuesday as 24-year-old Pfc. Cody J. Patterson of Philomath.

"He was on a night combat mission and the goal was to interdict a high-profile suicide-bomber attack that was going to take place in Kandahar City," said Lt. Col. Brian DeSantis, the regiment's spokesman. "The mission was successful."

Patterson was born in Corvallis and graduated from Philomath High School in 2007.

Assistant Principal Jon Barlow said he can still see Patterson's smiling face walking down the hall in his football uniform.

"The kids wear their uniforms before the games," Barlow said. "I can just see him, I can just see him, and he's not here, so that's the hard part, he's not here."

He joined the Army as an infantryman on Jan. 3, 2012, and was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, at Fort Benning, Ga. in November 2012.

DeSantis said there were about 40 people involved in the mission. Also killed were 1st Lt. Jennifer M. Moreno, who was assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord; Sgt. Patrick C. Hawkins, who was assigned to Fort Benning; and Sgt. Joseph M. Peters, who worked for the 5th Military Police Battalion based in Vicenza Italy.

The attack happened in the Zhari district of Afghanistan. Patterson was about 30 days into his second deployment.

"Pfc. Cody Patterson was the poster child for the Ranger regiment," said Lt. Col. Patrick J. Ellis. "He was courageous and dedicated and lost his life while fighting tenaciously against our nation's enemies alongside his fellow Rangers. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Patterson family."

The attack happened in the Zhari district of Afghanistan. It was Patterson's second deployment in Afghanistan. He was posthumously awarded the Combat Infantryman's Badge, Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Purple Heart and NATO Medal.

Moreno, 25, of San Diego, was based at the hospital at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and volunteered as a member of a cultural support team with a special operations task force that deployed in June.

Serving with a special operations cultural support team is one of the few ways for female soldiers to go outside the wire on combat missions with all male Army Ranger or Green Beret teams, The News Tribune reported. It's a dangerous assignment that calls on American women to interact with Afghan females to gain information that might not be available to male soldiers because of cultural differences in a Muslim country.

"We've lost a superb officer and a caring nurse who served with marked distinction and honor throughout her career." said Madigan Command Col. Ramona Fiorey. "We are all deeply saddened by the tragic loss of this great American solider."

According to a count kept by the Oregon governor's office, Patterson would be the 141st member of the military from Oregon or with strong ties to Oregon to die in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.