Sgt. Eric M. Houck

Sgt. Eric M. Houck

Three 101st Airborne Division Soldiers died Saturday from wounds sustained in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, while supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

The three Soldiers have been identified as Cpl. Dillon C. Baldridge, 22, of Youngsville, North Carolina, Sgt. Eric M. Houck, 25, of Baltimore, Maryland, and Sgt. William M. Bays, 29, of Barstow, California and were assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

The Rakkasans deployed in the fall of 2016 to Afghanistan.

“Today, as we grieve, our thoughts and prayers are with the Families of Cpl. Baldridge, Sgt. Houck and Sgt. Bays. We take this as a Family loss,” said Maj. Gen. Andrew Poppas, commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division and Fort Campbell. “In the days ahead, the 101st Soldiers and the Rakkasans will continue the fight against terrorism with unbridled determination. Our Soldiers are battle-hardened and committed to the defense of our nation and the freedoms for which we fight.”

Baldridge was an infantryman assigned to D Company, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd BCT. He was a squad leader who joined the Army in February 2013 and arrived at Fort Campbell in August 2016.

His awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal with three oak clusters, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal and the Expert Infantryman Badge. Baldridge was posthumously promoted to sergeant and awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Combat Infantry Badge and the Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster.

Bays was an infantryman in D Co., 1-187th Inf. Regt., 3rd BCT. He was a squad leader who joined the Army in August 2009 and arrived at Fort Campbell in August 2014. His awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army NCO Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Air Assault Badge and the Driver and Mechanic Badge.

Bays posthumously earned the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Combat Infantry Badge and Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster.

Houck was a forward observer in Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Abn. Div. He was a fire support sergeant who joined the Army in May 2013 and arrived at Fort Campbell in March 2016. His awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Army Superior Unit Award, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army NCO Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal and the Air Assault Badge.

Houck posthumously earned the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Combat Action Badge and Army Commendation Medal with a second oak leaf cluster.

No other details are being released at this time as the incident is under investigation.