On March 9, the Department of Defense released a statement about two U.S. service members, who were killed in action in Iraq on Sunday, March 8.
This is the full statement from Operation Inherent Resolve: “Two U.S. service members were killed by enemy forces while advising and accompanying Iraqi Security Forces during a mission to eliminate an ISIS terrorist stronghold in a mountainous area of north central Iraq, March 8.” The statement concludes, saying “The names of the service members are withheld pending next of kin notification, in accordance with U.S. Department of Defense policy.”
On March 10, Lt. Gen. Pat White, the Commanding General of Combined Joint Task Force for Operation Inherent Resolve, released the names of the two deceased. He said “On behalf of the military Coalition, I send my deepest condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones of U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Moises A. Navas and Gunnery Sgt. Diego D. Pongo.”
He continued, “Their courage to confront the evil of ISIS, while advising Iraqi Security Forces, in close combat is a testament to the Coalition’s steadfast commitment to achieve our goal to defeat ISIS permanently. Moises and Diego made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our freedoms and protect our way of life; they will not be forgotten.”
Capt. Navas Enlisted in the Marines in 2004 & Was a Team Commander and Company Executive Officer for 2nd Marine Raider Battalion Since 2016
Capt. Moises A. Navas was a special operations officer and Marine Raider from Germantown, Maryland. He was part of the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion in Marine Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC). They were based out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Capt. Navas enlisted in 2004 and became a sergeant before becoming a commissioned officer in 2010. He was assigned to the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion as a Team Commander and Company Executive Officer, serving in that capacity for the last four years, MARSOC wrote in a statement. He had deployed previously for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Inherent Resolve.
Capt. Navas Was Described as a Family Man & ‘Adoring Husband’
Capt. Moises Navas is survived by his wife and four kids, his parents and his brother. He was 34 years old. The Marine Raider Regiment Commanding Officer, Col. John Lynch, issued his own statement, saying that Capt. Navas was a true Marine Raider. In addition to being “intelligent, courageous, and loyal,” he was a leader and a professional.
Col. Lynch also described Capt. Navas as a family man who loved his wife, his daughter and his three sons. Capt. Navas was born in Panama and grew up in Maryland, and spent his free time supporting his children in their sports. Col. Lynch said most people referred to Navas as “Mo.”
The Iraqi Parliament Voted to End the Presence of Foreign Troops But the U.S. Has Not Planned a Withdrawal
The Iraqi parliament voted in early January to “work towards ending the presence of all foreign troops on Iraqi soil,” CNN reported. This vote was largely seen as a response to the American targeted airstrike on Iranian commander Soleimani at the Baghdad International Airport, in Iraq.
There are about 5,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, and the Trump administration has said they have no plans to withdraw from the country.