CONSTANTINOPLE, CA, USA
SSG, COMPANY A, 8TH PSYOPS BN (AIRBORNE), FORT BRAGG, NC
TIMERGARA, PAKISTAN 02/03/2010
From the day he was born Mark Alan Stets, Jr, was G.I. Joe. Although his Dad convinced Mark to join the Navy, Mark, Jr. switched to the Army after a single tour. Nearly two decades after the change in branches, he was part of a Psychological Operations detachment out of Fort Bragg, NC that was serving in Pakistan. The mission Mark supported did not receive much publicity. He and other Americans were helping train Pakistanis in the country’s Border Region as part of an effort to fight Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan and root out members of al-Qaeda who occupy the mountainous border. Frequently, Mark was in civilian clothes for a job that he described as “marketing to the enemy.
Staff Sergeant Stets and two others were killed while returning from a mission outside of Islamabad when a remotely detonated bomb exploded killing all three service members. They were training local paramilitary forces, and though they were soldiers, were dressed like civilians because of their country building mission. Family knew that the work of winning the minds and hearts of people was important to Mark and he was excited about what he was doing.
The Taliban has taken responsibility for the bomb attack that killed him and at least six other people.
Mark and the two other American victims were part of a psychological operations detachment based at Fort Bragg, N.C. They’d been serving near the Afghan border with a special operations team that trains Pakistan’s paramilitary Frontier Corps in counterinsurgency tactics, such as humanitarian and intelligence work. They were on their way to a ceremony marking the reopening of a girls’ school rebuilt with U.S. aid money when a suicide attacker struck their vehicle.