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Another reminder of Afghanistan war

This past Memorial Day, John A. Lyons was added to the state’s War Memorial in the Memorial Union Building at the University of New Hampshire.

The building’s Memorial Room lists all New Hampshire residents who have been killed in military action from World War I to current conflicts abroad.

Lyons, who had spent part of his life in Peterborough, was killed while serving the U.S. Army in Afghanistan in 2011. Lyons was looking to return to the region after his tour, and his death once again reminded us of how connected we are to conflicts even in the most remote corners of the world.

This past week, we received another stark reminder that Afghanistan remains a hotbed of violence and that our soldiers continue to be targeted by an elusive enemy.

According to the Defense Department, Staff Sgt. Liam J. Nevins, 32, of Denver, Colo., was one of three soldiers killed on Sept. 21 when their unit was attacked by small arms fire in Gardez in the Paktia Province of Afghanistan.

According to published reports, Nevins, who grew up in Bennington and moved from the region after attending Great Brook School, was killed when a gunman dressed in an Afghan National Security Forces uniform opened fire during training exercises on the base.

Those in Bennington and Hancock who knew Nevins when he lived in the area, remembered him in interviews Monday as someone who cared about people and was socially conscious. They also remarked on his creativity and intelligence.

His loss is also felt in Colorado, where Nevins had joined the Army National Guard. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper ordered flags in the state lowered to half-staff on Wednesday in honor of Nevins, who was on his fourth deployment when he was killed. Hickenlooper called Nevins “a true American hero.”

Nevins’ death underscores the fragile peace effort long underway in Afghanistan, and the often tenuous relations between American troops stationed there and Afghanis, either working with or against the security forces.

It also speaks to the enormous sacrifices being asked of our military. Nevins had even been awarded a Purple Heart after being wounded in combat.

Twelve years after the operation to oust the Taliban began, we still find ourselves mired in a murky operation with an often unclear objective, other than to make the nation as stable as possible ahead of the Dec. 31, 2014, timetable for a complete withdrawal.

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