A 31-year-old New York National Guard airman from Coram was among six US military service members killed by a suicide bomber near the Afghanistan capital of Kabul this week, defense officials said.
Staff Sgt. Louis M. Bonacasa was assigned to the 105th Security Forces Squadron at Stewart Air National Guard Base in upstate Newburgh, New York. He was with a group on patrol in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel when they were attacked by a suicide bomber on a motorcycle in a village outside Bagram Air Base in Parwan province on Monday.
“Our deepest sympathies go out to the families of these brave Americans who died in service to this vital mission,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a statement. “Our thoughts remain with all of our troops serving overseas during this holiday season so that we may have peace and security at home.”
Another New Yorker among the soldiers killed in the bombing was Technical Sgt. Joseph G. Lemm, 45, of the Bronx, who was assigned to the same Squadron was Bonacasa. Lemm, who previously served in the military from 1988 to 1996, was an NYPD detective.
Bonacasa had enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 2002 and transitioned to the New York Air National Guard’s 106th Security Forces Squadron based out of Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach in 2008 before joining the 105th Base Defense Squadron five years ago.
Both men previously had served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Leading a team of passionate defenders, they took on the most challenging mission for themselves and epitomized the concept of leading from the front, a concept that has distinct risks that they both acknowledged and embraced,” said Col. Timothy LaBarge, the commander of the 105th Airlift Wing, who called them “true American heroes.”
The other four soldiers killed in the attack—all U.S. Air Force members—included 36-year-old Air Force Maj. Adrianna M. Vorderbruggen of Minn., 28-year-old Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael A. Cinco of Texas, Staff Sgt. Peter W. Taub of Penn. and Staff Sgt. Chester J. McBride of Ga., both 30.
On Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered flags on all state buildings be lowered to half-staff in honor of Bonacasa and Lemm.
“On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest sympathies to the family, friends and fellow servicemen of Staff Sgt. Bonacasa,” Cuomo said. “We will join his loved ones in honoring his valor, leadership and service to this great nation. His sacrifice will be remembered with gratitude.”