- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 12, 2009

KABUL, Afghanistan | Military divers have found the body of a U.S. paratrooper who disappeared last week along with another soldier as the two tried to retrieve airdropped supplies from a river in western Afghanistan, NATO said Wednesday.

Relatives said they believe Spc. Benjamin Sherman of Plymouth, Mass., died after jumping into the river to try to save his comrade, who was also swept away by the current.

Afghan and international forces are still searching for the second missing paratrooper in the remote, Taliban-infested province of Badghis, which borders Turkmenistan. He has not been identified.

Spc. Sherman’s wife, Patricia, said military officials told her that the circumstances of his death remain under investigation, but his family thinks Spc. Sherman died trying to rescue his friend.

“I know that day he jumped into the river to try to save his comrade was not because he didn’t just see another soldier in the water, he saw his brother,” said his sister, Meredith Sherman. “He didn’t jump in because he was trained to, but because that’s what his heart told him to do.”

The two paratroopers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, disappeared Nov. 4 in the Bala Barghab area of Badghis during a routine resupply mission. Local police had said the two were swept away by the river as they tried to recover airdropped supplies that had fallen into the water.

During the first days of the search, intense fighting broke out with militants in the area. Eight Afghans - four soldiers, three policemen and an interpreter - were killed, while 17 Afghan troops and five American soldiers were wounded.

Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry said at the time that the deaths and injuries had been caused by “an air attack by NATO forces” during the fighting. NATO has said authorities are investigating whether some of the casualties were caused by a friendly-fire air strike.

Separately, the Swedish military said five of its troops were wounded and their Afghan interpreter was killed when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in northern Afghanistan on Wednesday.

Army spokesman Torbjorn Gustafsson said the soldiers were on patrol with Afghan security forces about 25 miles west of the town of Mazar-e-Sharif at the time of the explosion. Sweden has about 450 troops in Afghanistan.

In southern Afghanistan, a suicide bomber on a motorcycle detonated his explosives near a NATO military convoy in the province of Zabul, killing a man and a woman and wounding three other bystanders, the province’s governor said.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd paid a surprise visit Wednesday - which was Remembrance Day - to his country’s troops in the southern province of Uruzgan, where they are mainly focused on training an Afghan National Army brigade.

Australia’s 1,550 troops make up the largest non-NATO contingent in Afghanistan.

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