- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - A 28-year-old Marine from Virginia was killed while conducting combat operations in Afghanistan, the Defense Department said Wednesday.

The Defense Department said Sgt. Charles C. Strong of Suffolk died Monday in Herat province.

A NATO news release issued Tuesday said an International Security Assistance Force member died as a result of an individual wearing an Afghan National Army uniform turning his weapon against ISAF members in western Afghanistan. The release did not identify the person killed.

Capt. Barry Morris, a Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command spokesman, said Strong’s death is directly related to that incident, which is under investigation.

Strong was a critical skills operator assigned to the 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to a biography provided by the Marines.

Strong enlisted in 2003, the same year he graduated from Suffolk’s Nansemond River High School. He was promoted to sergeant in 2007 and joined Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command in December.

“It is with a heavy heart that MARSOC announces the passing of one of our Marines. He was a consummate professional, who upheld our warrior ethos each and every day. Our heartfelt condolences, thoughts and prayers are with his family as they mourn the loss of their loved one,” Morris said in a written statement.

Morris said he could not provide details about when Strong deployed to Afghanistan on his most recent mission. No other details about Strong’s death were provided. According to his biography, Strong was part of Marine Special Operations Team 8214.

In 2011, Strong deployed to Afghanistan as a team leader and navigator for all logistical mounted patrols. After that deployment Strong began training for and applied for U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command Assessment & Selection. Once chosen, he completed and graduated from the individual training course on Dec. 6.

Prior to that, he had deployed to Iraq twice. In 2005, he was there as a motor transport operator. In 2006, he deployed there as the only vehicle recovery operator for his battalion and supporting units.

Strong’s awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal and the Combat Action Ribbon.

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Brock Vergakis can be reached at www.twitter.com/BrockVergakis

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