Baltimore native Army Spc. Jameel T. Freeman was killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan, military officials said Friday. He was 26.
He is survived by his wife and two children, said his longtime friend and martial-arts instructor Del Ali Rawlings. Rawlings said that Freeman's family preferred not to speak publicly about his death.
Freeman had a martial-arts black belt, Rawlings said, and the two had worked together as security officers for the University of Maryland. Rawlings' Black Tiger martial-arts studio in Windsor Mill is decorated with Freeman's photos and fighting trophies, he said.
Rawlings said that Freeman's family was notified Thursday morning of his death. They were told that Freeman and several other soldiers were killed when their vehicle hit a roadside explosive device, he said.
Freeman's body will arrive Saturday morning at Dover Air Force Base, according to a statement Friday by the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations.
The Department of Defense has not released any details surrounding the circumstances of Freeman's death.
According to the Defense Department, as of Friday, 1,350 U.S. troops have been killed in action in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. The operation started about a month after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
The government announced Thursday the names of 30 service members killws last weekend in Afghanistan's Wardak province. They died when their CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed after being hit by a Taliban rocket-propelled grenade.
None of the soldiers killed in the Aug. 6 helicopter crash was from Maryland. Although more than a dozen of those killed were members of the Navy, and one was a naval officer, none had gone through the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, according to an academy representative.
On Wednesday, Gen. John R. Allen, commander of the NATO forces in Afghanistan, said in a teleconference that "coalition forces killed the Taliban insurgents responsible for this attack against the helicopter, which we assess was an RPG [rocket-propelled grenade] round."