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Three soldiers from Watertown Army Reserve unit, one an SLU graduate, killed in Afghanistan Saturday


Three New York soldiers from an Army Reserve unit based in Watertown were killed in an improvised explosive device attack Saturday in the Paktia province of Afghanistan.

The three soldiers killed were Staff Sgt. Dain T. Venne, 29, of Port Henry, Spc. Brett E. Gornewicz, 27, of Alden and Spc. Ryan P. Jayne, 22, of Campbell. All three were combat engineers.

According to a release from their unit, the three were killed about 1:30 p.m. as they conducted a routine route clearing patrol.

Sgt. Venne, a member of the military for 10 years, nine months, was on his fourth deployment. He was a graduate of Moriah Central School and was attending St. Lawrence University when the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks occurred. Mr. Venne enlisted in the military soon after.

Karl K. Schonburg, a government professor at St. Lawrence University, had Staff Sgt. Venne in one of his classes.

“I remember him being a very gregarious, outgoing, big personality,” he said. “A guy with a lot of friends who seemed to enjoy himself. He was a pleasure to have in class.”

Spc. Gornewicz, who served nearly seven years in the military, was on his third deployment. Spc. Jayne, who had served about two years, was on his second deployment.

The soldiers were assigned to the 479th Engineering Battalion, Watertown, of the 411th Engineering Brigade, New Windsor. In theater, they had been attached to the 444th Engineer Company, 178th Engineer Battalion, 412th Theater Engineer Command, Oswego.

“Our condolence and prayers go out to the families of these Soldiers killed in this IED incident,” Maj. Gen. William Buckler Jr., commander of the 412th Theater Engineer Command, said in a press release confirming the deaths. “We are here to support them.”

The release from the unit said funeral arrangements were not available as of Monday afternoon.

A press release from the office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said he had directed flags at state government buildings be flown at half-staff in their honor.

Staff writer Christopher Robbins contributed to this report.

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