Thursday, September 8, 2011

James R. Layton, Navy, Petty Officer -- Rest In Peace

James R. Layton, 22

Navy, Petty Officer 3rd Class
Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan
Supporting: Operation Enduring Freedom
Died: September 8, 2009
Kunar province, Afghanistan
Gender: Male
Hometown: Riverbank
High School: Vista High (Escalon)
Burial: Burwood Cemetery, Escalon, Calif.

U.S. Navy hospital corpsman James Layton headed out before dawn with U.S. and Afghan forces on an assignment to a remote village in eastern Afghanistan.

Their mission was to meet the village elders of Ganjgal in Kunar province and work to establish the Afghan government's authority in the mountains near the Pakistani border, a largely Taliban-controlled tribal region through which fighters and weapons are smuggled.

The troops walked into the valley leading to the village, which is bounded on three sides by mountains. As daylight broke, they heard shots.

It was a trap.

From the slopes of the mountains, gunfire and grenades rained on about 80 Afghan soldiers and a dozen U.S. troops. They took cover and radioed for help, but helicopter support would not arrive for 80 minutes.

At one point, a Marine, 1st Lt. Michael Johnson, was struck by gunfire. Layton, 22, rushed from his sheltered position with his first aid kit to help the wounded man.

"James had left his cover to go help Mike," said his father, Brent Layton. "He was killed trying to save Mike." Johnson also died in the attack.

The corpsman's aunt, Kym Layton, said she had always "thought James to be the kind of kid to do the right thing."

She added: "We never know how far we would go for someone else, and he went all the way."

Layton's body was found slumped over Johnson's. Bandage wrappings were scattered around their bodies, according to Jonathan Landay, a McClatchy Newspapers reporter who was embedded with the attacked unit.
Read more about Navy Petty Officer James R. Layton here and here, with quotes from family and friends here.

Navy, Petty Officer 3rd Class James R. Layton previously remembered at Boom3 on Wednesday, September 8, 2010.

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