A NY Firefighter Went to Serve in Afghanistan. He Was Killed by a Roadside Bomb.

NY Times - April 10, 2019

by Sharon Otterman

Christopher Slutman, who was a staff sergeant in the Marines, was also a decorated 15-year veteran of the New York City Fire Department.

A Bronx firefighter who was also serving in the Marines was among three American service members killed on Monday in Afghanistan when a roadside bomb struck their military convoy, fire officials announced.

Christopher Slutman, who was a staff sergeant in the Marines, was also a decorated 15-year veteran of the New York City Fire Department, and a captain at a volunteer fire department in Landover, Maryland, where he worked in his free time.

Firefighter Slutman, who was 43, had been a Marine Corps reservist before he began extended training last year ahead of his deployment to Afghanistan.

He is survived by his wife and three daughters.

“Together, all firefighters grieve the loss of our brother, Christopher, who dedicated his life to protecting the people of this city, and our nation,” said Gerard Fitzgerald, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York.

Mr. Slutman most recently worked as a firefighter at Engine 46 Ladder 27 in the Claremont section of the Bronx. He received the department’s Fire Chiefs Association Memorial Medal for heroism in fighting a fire in July 2013.

Oleg Pelekhaty, a chief of the Kentland Volunteer Fire Department in Maryland, said in a statement that Mr. Slutman had joined his department in February 2000 and had risen to the rank of captain.

Mr. Slutman had grown up in the area, and his father, Fletcher, had also been a firefighter in Prince George's County, Md., a Washington Post article from 1993 recounted.

“Through this trying time, we will remember Chris for the father, husband, brother, son, and friend that he was, the moral character he displayed daily, and the courage and conviction to serve his fellow Americans, both at home and abroad,” Chief Pelekhaty wrote on Facebook.

Matthew Lund, 39, said he had met Mr. Slutman when they both volunteered as firefighters in Kentland 19 years ago. He called Mr. Slutman, who was a few years older than him, his mentor.

“He was a real stand up guy, a very positive influence on everyone and really funny. He had a big heart and was an excellent fireman,” Mr. Lund said in a phone interview.

Mr. Slutman and the two other Marines were killed on Monday when their convoy struck a roadside bomb near Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul, American military forces in Afghanistan announced. An Afghan contractor was wounded, along with several other civilians.

A United States miliary official told The Times that the Taliban was believed to be behind the attack. The fallen service members had not yet been publicly identified, in accordance with Department of Defense policy.

Fighting between the Taliban and American-backed Afghan forces has continued in recent weeks despite continuing negotiations on a framework to end the nearly 18-year war. About 14,000 American troops are stationed in Afghanistan, largely supporting the Afghan military. Seven American troops have been killed in Afghanistan this year.

In March 2018, two men who served in the New York City Fire Department, Lt. Christopher Raguso and Fire Marshall Christopher Zanetis, were among seven American service members killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq, where they had been serving as part of the New York Air National Guard. Two weeks ago, a plaque dedicated to Lt. Raguso was unveiled at his former firehouse, Ladder Company 155 in Jamaica, Queens. Editors’ Picks