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Special Forces captain killed in Afghanistan from Clarence

Posted at 4:36 PM, Nov 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-05 23:42:47-04

One of two US troops killed in Afghanistan this week has been identified as a former Clarence, New York resident. The Department of Defense says Army Captain Andrew Byers was killed when U.S. and Afghan forces came under fire on Thursday while targeting senior Taliban commanders during a joint operation in northern Kunduz province.

NATO described the Americans killed and two other Americans wounded as being part of "a train, advise and assist mission," rare combat casualties for Western forces who handed over the task of securing Afghanistan to local troops some two years ago.

7 Eyewitness News spoke to a close friend of Captain Andrew Byers, Roman Newell, who says he met Byers about ten years ago at the United States Military Academy in West point.

"One family isn't just blood," said Newell over the phone. In fact, family really has nothing to do with blood. It has to do with people who are there for you in the worst of circumstances and at the worst of times."

He says they graduated together from West Point in 2008, and although their paths may have physically gone separate ways, he always considered Byers a close friend.

"Relationships in the army, you end up all over the place," said Newell. "Some of the situations that we were in are certainly the worst of circumstances in time so those people become family for life. You don't forget those people because they remember things that nobody else in this world could possibly relate to. I think that's kind of the epitome of what brotherhood is like."

Epitome of brotherhood and hard work. Byers earned a long list of awards during his 8 and a half years in the military. In 2007, he received top honors from the New York State Assembly during his Junior year at West Point.

"He was great at making other people great, which is what made him so impactful and so profoundly missed," said Newell.

7 Eyewitness News also got in touch with Byers' sister, Lauren Byers, who said he will be greatly missed.

"Andy was an incredible guy who wanted to see everyone around him succeed," she wrote us. "He loved his wife and his family and was committed to our country. He worked very hard to achieve his role in Special Forces. We are eternally blessed to have had him in our lives."

The Department of Defense says both Byers and Sergeant 1st Class Ryan Gloyer, who also died Thursday, were stationed in For Carson, Colorado. Fort Carson officials say it's never easy to lose part of their military family, and will keep the men in their thoughts and prayers.

Meanwhile, Afghan officials said they were still investigating the attack and its civilian casualties, some of which may have been caused by the airstrikes. Residents later carried over a dozen corpses of the dead, including children, toward the local governor's office in a show of rage a year after American forces attacked an area hospital.

There have been at least other four combat deaths among American forces in Afghanistan in 2016. In October, a U.S. soldier was killed by a bomb in Nangarhar province while another was shot dead by a man wearing an Afghan army uniform in Kabul. In August, an American soldier was killed and another wounded by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan' southern Helmand province. In January, a U.S. soldier was killed by small arms fire in Helmand.