Long Island Marine killed in Taliban bombing in Afghanistan

A U.S. Marine from Long Island has been identified as one of the three victims who was killed in a roadside bombing in Afghanistan, the same attack that claimed the life of a veteran New York City firefighter, The Department of Defense announced late Tuesday.

Cpl. Robert Hendriks, 25, of Locust Valley, was one of the three Americans killed in Monday’s bombing near the main American base north of Kabul, an attack for which the Taliban has claimed responsibility. 

Christopher Slutman, 43, a 15-year FDNY veteran and married father of three, was also killed in the attack. The third victim was identified as Sgt. Benjamin S. Hines, 31, of York, Pennsylvania. Slutman, who worked with Ladders 27 and 17 in the Bronx, is survived by his wife and three young daughters.

Funeral arrangements for him are pending for the soldiers. They were assigned to 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve.

In their claim of responsibility, the Taliban said they launched the attack and that one of their suicide bombers detonated his explosives-laden vehicle near the NATO base. The conflicting accounts could not be immediately reconciled.

Monday’s U.S. fatalities bring to seven the number of U.S. soldiers killed so far this year in Afghanistan, underscoring the difficulties in bringing peace to the war-wrecked country even as Washington has stepped up efforts to find a way to end the 17-year war, America’s longest.

There are about 14,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan, supporting embattled Afghan forces as they struggle on two fronts — facing a resurgent Taliban who now hold sway over almost half the country and also the Islamic State affiliate, which has sought to expand its footprint in Afghanistan even as its self-proclaimed “caliphate” has crumbled in Syria and Iraq.

Last year, 13 U.S. service members were killed in Afghanistan.

“We feel and mourn the loss of these Americans with their families and loved ones. They volunteered to protect their country. We will continue our mission,” said Gen. Scott Miller, Commanding General of Resolute Support and United States Forces – Afghanistan.

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