SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Spc. is described by her parents as lively and constantly laughing. Kennedy Sanders and Spc. Breonna Moffett became close friends shortly after joining the Army Reserves five years ago. Sergeant. William Jerome Rivers served a tour of duty in Iraq before joining the same company of Army engineers.
The three citizen-soldiers from different parts of Georgia were all killed in a weekend drone strike on a US base in Jordan near the Syrian border that also injured more than 40 others. Families of the slain reservists said they were shocked when uniformed military officers came to their doors on Sunday to deliver the news.
While President Joe Biden has promised that the U.S. will respond, Moffett's parents said they hope there is not an escalation of violence that leaves more American soldiers dead. Her daughter celebrated her 23rd birthday abroad just nine days before she was killed.
“I just hope and pray that no other family has to go through this,” Francine Moffett, the young soldier's mother, said tearfully at the dining room table of her Savannah home on Monday. “It takes your heart and soul.”
Breonna Moffitt joined the Army Reserve in 2019 after graduating from high school. In addition to her military service, she worked for a home care service, cooking, cleaning and running errands for people with disabilities, her parents said. When Moffett left in August with fellow soldiers from the 718th Engineer Company, 926th Engineer Battalion, stationed at Fort Moore, it was her first overseas deployment.
She was the oldest of four siblings. Every morning, Francine Moffett said, her 8-year-old daughter called her big sister to say hello as she drove to school.
Whenever the Moffett family called, they usually heard from Sanders too.
“Every time I called Breonna, I saw Sanders just stick her head in and say, 'Hey!' How are you?'” Francine Moffett said.
Sanders, 24, a native of Waycross, 100 miles (160 kilometers) southwest of Savannah, had volunteered for the Middle East deployment and was eager to see a new part of the world, her parents said.
At home, she helped coach children's soccer and basketball teams. She also worked in a pharmacy while taking courses with the goal of becoming an X-ray technician. Lately, however, she had been thinking about becoming a full-time active-duty soldier once her Army Reserve contract was fulfilled.
“She was loved. She had no enemies. You could see her smiling the whole time,” her father, Shawn Sanders, said in an interview Monday. “This is someone who just lived life, enjoyed life at a young age and worked toward a career.”
At age 46, Rivers had far more military experience than either young woman. The Defense Department said he joined the Army Reserve in New Jersey in 2011 and served a nine-month deployment to Iraq in 2018. Last year he joined the 718th Engineering Company at Fort Moore and lived in Carrollton, about 45 miles (70 kilometers) west of Atlanta.
The Associated Press was unsuccessful in attempts to contact Rivers' family on Monday.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp issued a statement mourning the “inexcusable loss of life” of the three soldiers and saying they had “demonstrated the ultimate level of dedication in service to this country.” Army brigade. Gen. Todd Lazaroski, commander of the Army Reserve's 412th Theater Engineer Command, said in a statement, “You represent the best of America.”
In Sanders' hometown of Waycross, flags were lowered to half-staff. Her parents said their unit was deployed first to Kuwait and then to Jordan, where the U.S. operates a logistical support base along the Syrian border.
In her free time during her deployment, Sanders practiced jiu-jitsu and ran to stay in shape. She relaxed by knitting and called home almost every day, her parents said. Although she occasionally mentioned that drones were being shot down nearby, there was no sense of immediate danger, said Oneida Oliver-Sanders, the reservist's mother.
When they last spoke the day before her murder, Sanders said she was thinking about buying a motorcycle, much to her mother's dismay. She had also recently talked about buying a house.
“All these different things that she had planned came to naught in the blink of an eye,” Oliver-Sanders said. “I just feel like someone like her who is so full of life, it's just unfair that she can never achieve her dreams.”