Ranger killed in Afghanistan firefight

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A veteran Joint Base Lewis-McChord Army Ranger was shot to death in a "heavy firefight" in Afghanistan's Ghazni province Friday, the Defense Department said Sunday.

Sgt. Thomas MacPherson, 26, of Long Beach, Calif., was serving on his fifth deployment with Lewis-McChord's 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.

MacPhersonis survived by his wife, Claudia, and son, Brayden, of Tacoma, as well as his parents, Troy and Diona MacPherson of Long Beach.

MacPherson's battalion deployed in June for its 15th combat assignment since 2002 to Iraq or Afghanistan. MacPherson served on one deployment to Iraq; this was his fourth in Afghanistan.

His Ranger Regiment commander, Col. Mark Odom, praised MacPherson as someone who "personified the traits of the consummate Ranger: commitment and courage."

"He deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq multiple times and always seemed to be at the critical points on the battlefield," Odom said.

MacPherson sought out an assignment with his elite Special Operations unit soon after joining the Army in May 2007, according to his service record. He graduated from the Army's Ranger Assessment and Selection Program by December of that year, and then was assigned to the Lewis-McChord battalion.

His battalion commander, Lt. Col. Gregory Anderson, said in a news release that MacPherson died while leading soldiers in a close fight with the enemy.

"Tommy MacPherson never backed away from the dangers of combat, and his warrior spirit, personal example, and zeal for life continue to inspire all who knew him," Anderson said.

MacPherson was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart. He previously had been awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal and other service awards.

MacPherson is the first JBLM Ranger to die in combat on this deployment. Four were killed in Afghanistan last year. He is the 28th soldier from Lewis-McChord to fall in Afghanistan this year.