A roadside bomb explosion in northern Iraq killed a 34-year-old Navy sailor from Orange County, the Pentagon said Friday, in the first U.S. casualty in the Iraqi-led offensive to retake the city of Mosul from Islamic State.
Chief Petty Officer Jason C. Finan of Anaheim died Thursday after his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device near the town of Bashiqa.
Finan was assigned to an Explosive Ordnance Disposal mobile unit based in Coronado. The unit is assisting Iraqi Kurdish forces known as peshmerga in the push to recapture Islamic State’s self-declared capital in Iraq.
Finan is the fourth U.S. service member and the third Californian killed in the conflict against Islamic State since President Obama authorized military action in August 2014 and sent troops back to Iraq.
“The entire Navy Expeditionary Combat Command family offers our deepest condolences and sympathies to the family and loved ones of the sailor we lost,” Rear Adm. Brian Brakke, commander of Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, said in a statement.
After enlisting in August 2003, Finan received 18 awards in his military career. He served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, according to military records.
The Pentagon has deployed more than 5,000 troops in Iraq. Most serve as trainers and advisors, but some are working closely with front-line Iraqi and Kurdish troops advancing on Mosul.
Two other Californians have been killed in Iraq in the fight against Islamic State.
Marine Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin, 27, of Temecula, died in March after Islamic State rocket fire landed inside a coalition artillery base near Makhmur.
A Navy commando, Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Charles H. Keating IV, 31, of Coronado was killed in May during a firefight with militants who stormed the Iraqi Kurdish-held town of Tel Skuf north of Mosul.