Topsham soldier dies in Afghanistan

Posted June 25, 2013, at 12:50 p.m.
Last modified June 25, 2013, at 6:38 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A soldier from Topsham died in Afghanistan Sunday from wounds he suffered during an attack on his unit, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Sgt. Corey Garver, 26, who was serving with B Company, 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, based at Fort Campbell, Ky., “died June 23, in Zormat, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device,” stated the official Department of Defense notice posted Tuesday.

“Sergeant Garver died defending his country and we owe him and his family a debt of gratitude for their sacrifice,” U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, said in a statement. “I know words can’t ease the pain that his family is feeling, but I hope they know that the thoughts and prayers of the people of Maine go out to them during this most difficult time.”

Garver’s mother lives in Louisiana and his father and stepmother live in New Mexico, Pingree’s notice states.

Garver lists Topsham as his hometown on his Facebook page and Fort Campbell, Ky., as where he lived.

“We are deeply saddened to hear of Sergeant Garver’s passing,” said Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King in a joint statement Tuesday. “He was a true American hero who valiantly dedicated himself to the defense of our country. His actions on the battlefield demonstrated the highest caliber of leadership and courage and we owe him our enduring gratitude. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family in this most difficult time.”

Garver is featured in several photos in a slideshow of U.S. Army images from Paktia province, Afghanistan, that were taken in late May by U.S. Army photographer Spc. Robert Porter, and posted online on the DOD website earlier this month.

He is pictured looking for homemade explosives in one shot, providing security as members of his unit and Afghan National Army soldiers work to clear a village in Paktia province in another, and looking through his weapon’s scope in a third.

Sgt. 1st Class Rodney Gagnon of Topsham, who is an Army recruiter now stationed in Utah, said he and Garver’s family got to know each other at church when he was a youngster. The two families spent time together on Bailey Island.

“I can still see him in the field wrestling with his sister over potato chips,” he said by phone.

Garver’s father was a career Navy man, and he followed in his footsteps into the military, Gagnon said. Garver graduated from Mt. Ararat High School before joining the military, according to Gagnon.

“He loved the Army,” Gagnon said. “I remember the day he enlisted. He was very excited.”