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Buena grad dies in Afghan combat

Buena grad dies in Afghan combat

  • Updated

A 21-year-old Marine from Sierra Vista was killed in combat in Afghanistan on Saturday.

The Department of Defense announced that Lance Cpl. Randy R. Braggs died in the country's Helmand province.

Braggs joined the Marines in March 2009, became a rifleman, and was stationed at Camp Pendleton, Calif., with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force.

It was his first combat deployment.

Braggs was "a big, sweet, easygoing, lovable guy" who did his best to make people smile, said his grandmother, Retha Long.

He loved playing with his brothers and nephews, she said.

He was a 2008 graduate of Buena High School.

Before he left for Afghanistan, Braggs wrote to his Facebook friends:

"I love all of you, just be safe and take care of each other, and hope to talk to y'all soon."

Braggs came from a military family. His parents both served in the Army, and his younger brother is serving in the Air Force in Afghanistan, Long said.

Braggs' parents were in Washington, D.C., on Monday to escort his body home, his grandmother said.

The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have claimed the lives of 49 service members with ties to Tucson and Southern Arizona.

It's the second combat death in Afghanistan of a soldier from Southern Arizona in a week.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Todd M. Harris, 37, of Tucson, died Nov. 3 when insurgents attacked his unit while it was on patrol in Badghis province.

Flagstaff marine dies

The Department of Defense also announced the death of Lance Cpl. Matthew J. Broehm, 22, of Flagstaff, on Thursday in Helmand province.

The Marine rifleman's death is under investigation, according to the Defense Department.

Broehm also was stationed at Pendleton and was in the same unit as Braggs. He enlisted in September 2007 and was on his first combat deployment.

Contact reporter Becky Pallack at or 807-8012.

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