On Monday, the Department of Defense announced Staff Sgt. Mark C. Wells, 31, of San Jose died on Saturday in Helmand province.
The DOD said he was killed from "wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device," but his family told the San Jose Mercury News he was actually trying to disarm a IED when he stepped on another hidden bomb. The paper spoke to Wells' father who is on his way to Dover to pick up the body.
Wells' leaves behind a wife, who is eight months pregnant, and a two year old son. The paper said the army sergeant used to play bag pipes at the funerals of fallen soldiers. Now someone will need to play them at his funeral, which will be on St. Patrick's Day. His father told the paper that Mark often said, "Dad, if anything ever happens to me, remember that I love doing this."
Wells was deployed out of the Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. He is the second soldier out of Schofield to die in recent days. His Hawaii comrades were to hold a memorial on Monday at the base.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was in Afghanistan when the news of Wells' death was announced.
During a talk with troops Gates offered encouragement.
"I know you've had a tough winter, and it's going to be a tougher spring and summer, but you've made a lot of headway," he said. "I think you've proven, with your Afghan partners, that this thing is going to work and that we'll be able to prevail."
Right now, the United States is committed to beginning a troop withdrawal in July.