Fallen Civil Affairs Soldiers


Verified SOF
Sep 15, 2009
Yorktown, Virginia

Afghan blast kills 2 soldiers based in Greensboro
Tuesday, October 6, 2009

By Dioni L. Wise
Staff Writer

GREENSBORO — Two men assigned to the Army Reserve’s 422nd Civil Affairs Battalion in Greensboro were killed Friday in Murcheh, Afghanistan, by a suicide bomber.

The Department of Defense identified them as Pfc. Alan H. Newton Jr., 26, of Asheboro, and Capt. Benjamin A. Sklaver, 32, of Medford, Mass.

Newton was a civil affairs specialist with five years of military experience.

He was a 2002 graduate of Southwestern Randolph High School in Asheboro, where he was a member of the football team and JROTC.

Wayne Thrift, Newton’s former high school principal, said he did not know Newton well, but he knew that his classmates and teachers liked him very much.

He said Newton’s death evokes mixed emotions.

“Of course, I’m greatly saddened to hear about what happened to him. My heart goes out to his family and to his friends,” Thrift said.

“But I’m proud of the fact that he did pursue the military as a career and that he fought for our freedom.”

Newton is survived by his wife, Lisa, and daughter, Riley, and his mother, Joyce Woodell, all of North Carolina.

Sklaver is survived by his parents, Gary and Lisa Sklaver, of Hamden, Conn.

Sklaver, a leader with eight years of military service, received two degrees from Tufts University, including a master’s degree from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Gary Sklaver told the Hartford Courant newspaper in Connecticut that his son touched a lot of people with his work.

“He was certainly special to us,” Sklaver said. “Every soldier over there is a hero. And everyone over there has someone back home who grieves for them. All soldiers’ families are worried and all of us have to pray for those who are still over there.”

His son founded and directed ClearWater Initiative Corp., a nonprofit organization that aims to give clean water to remote villages in Uganda.

According to the organization’s Web site, Benjamin Sklaver began working in humanitarian relief in 2003. He worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. From 2006 to 2007, he served under a Combined Joint Task Force in the Horn of Africa with a mission to mentor Ugandan military units.

While deployed, he noticed the high number of child deaths linked to dirty drinking water and was inspired to create ClearWater Initiative. The organization has provided clean and sustainable drinking water to more than 6,500 people since 2007.

Sklaver’s funeral is scheduled for today in his native Connecticut.

The 422nd battalion has seen its share of conflict in recent years. It was the first civil affairs unit to enter the Baghdad, Iraq, in March 2003.

While in Iraq, the battalion helped public health officials, kept civilians away from battlefields, redeveloped Iraqi fire departments and built schools.