FRANKFORT — A Kentucky National Guard soldier was killed in Afghanistan last week when his platoon was attacked by a group of Taliban fighters, military officials said Monday.
Sgt. Daniel Wallace, 27, was killed in action Friday in the West Paktika Province of Afghanistan, Kentucky Adjutant General Edward Tonini said.
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Wallace, a gunner in a mine-resistant, armor-protected vehicle, was shot when he got out to handle a piece of equipment that had been knocked loose, Tonini said.
"Sgt. Daniel Wallace was a true patriot," Tonini said at a news conference. "One who stood up and answered the call to serve his nation in a time of need."
Wallace became the 17th member of the Kentucky National Guard to be killed in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2001. Wallace, who was assigned to the Kentucky National Guard's 201st Engineer Battalion based in Cynthiana, was the third to die in Afghanistan.
Wallace, of Dry Ridge, has been posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals, and has been promoted to the rank of sergeant. Wallace joined the National Guard in May 2006 and was on his first deployment.
Tonini said Wallace's platoon was conducting a mission to find and remove improvised explosive devices when one of the vehicles got stuck. Wallace was shot and killed when he left the vehicle he was in to handle a piece of equipment that had been knocked loose, prompting a firefight that led to the deaths of up to 20 Taliban fighters, Tonini said.
"At the time, there were many villagers planting winter wheat in the fields, there were goat herders all around, children playing near the roadways," Tonini said. "It was a typical example of what we expect to be a safe area — because typically we don't see people when there are to be ambushes or any kind of instances like we had here at this point."
Wallace's brother, Spec. Alex Wallace, is a medic in the Kentucky Army National Guard's 940th Military Police Company. Alex Wallace said he and his brother had decided to make careers of the military.
"I am proud of my brother," he said. "I'm going to keep carrying on. I know he wants me to serve my full time, which is what I'm going to do."
His mother, Karen Wallace, said her son loved being in the military and was also very religious and helped his unit's chaplain. A tearful Karen Wallace said her son had asked her to write to other soldiers who had not recently received letters of their own.
"Danny had a lot, a lot of sympathy for people," she said. "Danny's my fallen hero."