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Pentagon identifies 4x deployed Marine Raider killed in combat in Iraq

Gunnery Sgt. Scott A. Koppenhafer, 35, of Mancos, Colorado, died Aug. 10, 2019 while accompanying Iraqi security forces on a planned operation in Ninewah province, Iraq. (Marine Corps Special Operations Command/Released)
August 12, 2019

The Department of Defense on Sunday night identified a Marine who was killed while supporting Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR).

Gunnery Sgt. Scott A. Koppenhafer, 35, died Saturday after being engaged by enemy small-arms fire while accompanying Iraqi Security Forces on an operation in Ninewah province, Iraq, according to a Department of Defense press release on Sunday.

Major Kristin Tortorici, a spokeswoman for the United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC), said in a command release that Sgt. Koppenhafer was assigned to the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, Marine Forces Special Operations Command, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

“Our most sincere thoughts are with the family and teammates of Gunnery Sergeant Koppenhafer during this difficult time,” said Tortorici. “MARSOC is providing care and support to Gunnery Sergeant Koppenhafer’s family, and we urge respect for their privacy as they grieve this incredible loss.”

Koppenhafer joined the Corps in 2005 and was awarded two Bronze Stars and two Combat Action Ribbons over his nearly 14-year career, among other awards.

He spent the past 10 years operating as a Marine Raider, where he deployed four times with the elite special operations unit. During his first deployment to Afghanistan as a Raider, Koppenhafer was meritoriously promoted to staff sergeant.

This incident is under investigation.

Koppenhafer, who was from Mancos, Colo., is survived by his wife and two children.

Koppenhafer was part of the Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) coalition at the time he was killed. He was advising Iraqi Security Forces, which have recently launched new operations in the country’s north to weed out remnants of the Islamic State group.

In 2014, the U.S. Department of Defense established the OIR joint task force to deal with Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

According to the OIR’s July report, “since 2014, the coalition and partner forces have liberated 42,471 square miles from Daesh [ISIS], eliminating their self-proclaimed territorial caliphate and freeing 7.7 million people from Daesh oppression. The Coalition will continue to work with partner forces to deny Daesh any physical space and influence in the region as well as deny Daesh the resources they need to mount a resurgence.”

The Coalition conducted 34,547 strikes between August 2014 and the end of June 2019.