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Riverdale soldier killed in Afghanistan

From Staff Reports

A Georgia Army National Guardsman employed by the Clayton County Water Authority was one of three soldiers killed by an improvised explosive device and small-arms fire in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense announced Friday.

Staff Sgt. John C. Beale, 39, had worked for the authority since 2000, when he was hired as a surveyor, Clayton County Water Authority Spokeswoman Suzanne Brown said.

He, along with Maj. Kevin M. Jenrette, 37, of Lula, Ga., and Spc. Jeffrey W. Jordan, 21, of Rome, were killed Thursday, near Kapisa, Afghanistan, the Defense Department said.

They were members of the 1st Battalion, 108th Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition Squadron of the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

Brown said Beale became a stormwater management technician for the authority in 2007. She said his wife, Crystal, is a customer service representative in the authority's call center. Brown said John and Crystal Beale have a son, Christopher, and a daughter, Callie. According to Brown, John and Crystal Beale both went to Riverdale High School, and now live in McDonough.

"He was very passionate about serving in the military and serving his country," Brown said of John Beale. She said he was highly involved in the authority's youth programs, and enjoyed participating in career days in local schools. "He really loved kids and did a great job reaching out to them in our public education efforts," she said.

"It has been a very sad day for all of us," she said.

Lt. Col. Ken Baldowski, state public affairs officer for the Georgia National Guard, said the 600 soldiers of 108th have been in Afghanistan for approximately three weeks. The 108th was the first wave of 48th Brigade soldiers to be deployed to Afghanistan as part of a one-year assignment.

"The mission of the ... 2,000 members of the 48th Brigade that will be deploying to Afghanistan is to train security forces as well as Afghan police forces," Baldowski said.

He said the entire 48th is expected to be in Afghanistan by July 1.

In a statement, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue said, "I know the families of these Guardsmen have broken hearts, and though we can not comprehend the loss they are feeling, Mary and I join them in mourning.

"These men and women go where they are asked on a moment's notice, leaving behind families and communities that miss them dearly," Perdue said. "It is our responsibility to do all that we can to comfort these families and all of the families with a loved one in the line of duty."