Funerals held in Georgia for 2 U.S. soldiers killed in Jordan drone attack


Two young citizen-soldiers who became close friends after enlisting in the Army Reserve were remembered at funerals in southeast Georgia on Saturday, nearly three weeks after they died in a drone attack in January while deployed to the Middle East.

The soldiers — 24-year-old Sgt. Kennedy Sanders and 23-year-old Sgt. Breonna Moffett — were among three members of their Army Reserve unit who died Jan. 28 in the attack on a U.S. base in Jordan, near the Syrian border. Staff Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, 46, was buried Tuesday following a church service in Carrollton, Georgia.

Staff Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, Sgt. Kennedy Ladon Sanders and Sgt. Breonna Moffett died Jan. 28, 2024, in Jordan.
Staff Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, Sgt. Kennedy Ladon Sanders and Sgt. Breonna Moffett died Jan. 28, 2024, in Jordan.

Defense Department


The service for Sanders was held in the packed 1,200-seat auditorium of Ware County Middle School in Waycross.

Fellow soldiers recalled Sanders’ courage, her loving personality and her willingness to volunteer for tasks few wanted to do, including learning to operate earth-moving equipment to help build roads and shelters, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

“Behind her smile was a fierce determination,” Col. Jeffrey Dulgarian said during the service, adding that she “tackled her responsibility with vigor and skill.”

Sanders’ former basketball coach, Mandy Lingenfelter, remembered Sanders as a point guard for Ware County High’s Lady Gators.

“It was hard for me to yell at her,” Lingenfelter said, “because she was always smiling. … She had pure joy. She put Jesus first, others second and herself last.”

A similar welcome marked the final homecoming for Moffett in Savannah. Moffett’s funeral at a Baptist church was scheduled for the same time Saturday as Sanders’ service 100 miles away. Moffett’s family requested that media not be present.

The deaths of the three Georgia reservists were the first U.S. fatalities blamed on Iran-backed militia groups after months of intensified attacks on American forces in the region since the Israel-Hamas war began on Oct. 7.

More than 40 troops were also injured in the drone attack at Tower 22, a secretive U.S. military desert outpost that enables U.S. forces to infiltrate and quietly leave Syria. Roughly 350 U.S. Army and Air Force personnel are deployed at Tower 22, according to the Department of Defense.

The Jan. 28 attack was different from prior attacks because of where and when it took place — in living quarters and “pretty early morning,” Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters in a Jan. 30 briefing.

“People were actually in their beds when the drone impacted,” she said at the time.

The attack was believed to be the deadliest attack on U.S. service members since 13 Americans were killed in a suicide bombing in Kabul as the U.S. pulled out of Afghanistan in 2021.

The three soldiers killed in Jordan were awarded promotions in rank after their deaths. They were assigned to the 926th Engineer Battalion, 926th Engineer Brigade, based at Fort Moore in west Georgia.

According to the Army Reserve, Moffett and Sanders both enlisted in 2019 as construction engineers who use bulldozers and other heavy equipment to clear roads and construction sites.

By the time they deployed to the Middle East last year, the two had become close friends. Moffett’s mother, Francine Moffett, said that whenever the family would call her daughter, they typically would hear from Sanders too.

When she wasn’t serving in uniform, Moffett worked in Savannah for United Cerebral Palsy of Georgia, helping teach cooking and other skills to people with disabilities. She joined the Army Reserve after graduating from Windsor Forest High School, where she had been a drum major and JROTC cadet. She was killed just days after her 23rd birthday.

Sanders came from Waycross on the edge of the Okefenokee Swamp and worked at a local pharmacy. The former high school athlete helped coach children’s basketball and soccer teams in her spare time. Her mother, Oneida Oliver-Sanders, said the last time they spoke, her daughter talked of wanting to buy a motorcycle when she came home.

On Feb. 3, in response to the drone attack in Jordan, the U.S. began retaliatory airstrikes on dozens of targets associated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its affiliated militias in Syria and Iraq.

Meanwhile, Iranian-backed Houthi militants based in Yemen have been conducting attacks on commercial and naval vessels in the Red Sea in the wake of Oct. 7.

Last month, the U.S. and its allies began launching retaliatory strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen.



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