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Pentagon identifies soldier killed in non-combat incident in Kosovo

Photo of Pfc. Alexander Blake Klass (U.S. Army/Released)
July 07, 2020

The Pentagon has identified a U.S. Army National Guard soldier killed in a non-combat incident in Kosovo on Saturday, July 4.

On Monday, the Pentagon named Pfc. Alexander Blake Klass, 20, as the man killed at Camp Novo Selo in Kosovo. The cause of Klass’ death remains unclear and the incident is under investigation and no other details were available concerning the cause of his death.

A spokesperson for the Oregon Army National Guard provided further details about Klass to American Military News.

Klass, of Willamina, Ore., was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry Regiment, 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Oregon National Guard, based out of Springfield, Ore.

Klass joined the Oregon Army National Guard on Jan. 19, 2019 as an Infantryman.

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“This is a tragic situation and our primary focus is supporting the family during this difficult time,” said Brig. Gen. William J. Prendergast IV, Land Component Command Commander, Oregon Army National Guard.

“The family has requested a period of privacy for healing and reflection. We ask that the community respects the family’s wishes at this time,” the Oregon National Guard spokesperson said in the emailed statement.

Klass was deployed to Kosovo as part of Operation Joint Guardian, a United Nations peacekeeping mission. He mobilized in January of 2020 and was scheduled to return home from Kosovo in November.

An Army press release in February called the 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry Regiment, 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team’s support mission to Kosovo “very different than the training for combat most of the Guard Soldiers of this infantry battalion have experienced.”

The mission involved splitting the unit into two teams, with one team patrolling Kosovo’s boundary with Serbia, and the second team conducting “pulse patrols” between various locations to assist with humanitarian needs and resident interaction.

“We want them to know we have their best interests at heart and will help make them successful. We learn about them inside and out. We know their friction points and where they shine. Whether it’s Active, Guard, or Reserve, we are one Army, one fight,” Capt. Jeremy Kinder, Bravo Team chief, observer coach/trainer, 2nd Battalion, 357th Infantry Regiment, 189th Combined Arms Training Brigade, First Army, said at the time.