WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Ash Carter says the American soldier killed in the mission that rescued 70 hostages from an Islamic State prison in Iraq was a hero for rushing into a firefight to defend his Kurdish partners — even though the plan called for the Kurds to do the fighting on their own.
At a Pentagon news conference, Carter applauded 39-year-old Army Master Sgt. Joshua L. Wheeler of Roland, Oklahoma, who died of his wounds Thursday.
Carter gave a fresh description of the battle involving U.S. troops transporting Kurdish troops to the scene aboard U.S. helicopters. He said the plan was not for American troops to enter the prison compound or to get involved in direct combat. Carter said that when a firefight ensued, Wheeler responded, enabling the mission to succeed.