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2nd airman this week dies in non-combat incident in Kuwait

Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Ouellette, of Merrimack, N.H., died in a single all-terrain-vehicle non-combat related accident on the flight line at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, on Monday. Photo courtesy of Westover Air Reserve Base
Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Ouellette, of Merrimack, N.H., died in a single all-terrain-vehicle non-combat related accident on the flight line at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, on Monday. Photo courtesy of Westover Air Reserve Base

Sept. 17 (UPI) -- For the second time in less than a week, the Pentagon announced the death of a U.S. airman in a non-combat vehicle incident in Kuwait.

The Department of Defense said in a release Wednesday that Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Ouellette, 23, of Merrimack, N.H., died Monday in a single all-terrain-vehicle incident on the flight line where aircraft are parked and serviced at the Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait.

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"The cause of the accident is under investigation," the Pentagon said.

The Westover Air Reserve Base in Massachusetts, where Ouellette was assigned to the 42nd Aerial Port Squadron, said he died of injuries sustained in the crash.

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"Ronald was a valued member of the Patriot Wing and there are no words that can heal the pain his loss brings," Col. Craig C. Peters, 439th Airlift Wing commander, said in a statement confirming Ouellette's death. "The loss of our own, or any service member, is never easy. During this difficult time, our priority is to do all we can to lift and support his family, friends, fellow airmen in his squadron and loved ones who are struggling."

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The base said further details concerning the incident will be released upon their availability.

Ouellette was deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S. military's mission to defeat the Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq and Syria and set conditions for operations to increase regional stability, the mission's website said.

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Ouellette's death came days after Senior Airman Jason Khai Phan, 26, of Anaheim, Calif., was killed in a non-combat incident on Saturday while patrolling the perimeter of the base. Two other airmen were also injured in the single-vehicle incident.

Officials said its cause was also under investigation.

U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire said she's "devastated" by the death of Ouellette and that her thoughts are with his loved ones.

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"Staff Sgt. Ouellette served his country with honor and represented the best that our state has to offer," she said in a statement. "His service will never be forgotten, and I am profoundly grateful to him and the many other Granite Staters and Americans who have given their lives in order to keep the rest of us safe, secure and free.

"May he rest in peace," she said.

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