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Yuba City soldier dies in Afghanistan
A Yuba City man was among the latest American casualties in the war in Afghanistan.
U.S. Army Spc. Chase S. Marta, 24, a 2006 Yuba City High School graduate, was killed Monday in the Ghazni province when his unit was hit by an improvised explosive device, according to the U.S. Defense Department.
Army Pfc. Rueben “Boy” Lopez of Williams was killed on Aug. 11, 2011, and Army Pfc. Justin Casillas of Arbuckle was killed on July 4, 2009, both in Afghanistan.
Marta part of the storied 82nd Airborne, headquartered in Fort Bragg, N.C., and assigned to the 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team.
Marta enlisted in October 2010 and had been in Afghanistan for six weeks, according to family members.
“I am proud of him,” said his mother, Karyn Stone.
On Wednesday, she stood in the dining room of the north Yuba City home where her two children had grown up. “His friends were all here earlier. I just wanted him to walk through the door.”
The details surrounding Marta’s death, and the deaths of Sgt. Jacob M. Schwallie, 22, of Clarksville, Tenn., and Pfc. Dustin D. Gross of Jeffersonville, Ky., have not been released by defense officials.
He had been proud of his recently acquired airborne status, and was happy to be deployed, his family members said.
Marta had been recently promoted from private first-class to specialist.
He had not told his family about his plans to ask his girlfriend, Taylor Silva, also of Yuba City, to marry him as soon as he returned from his tour overseas.
Silva learned of his death from her mother.
“He was funny that way,” Stone said. “He was a private person.”
Close friends and family members took photographs at the Sacramento airport before Marta boarded a plane to return to Fort Bragg after his last visit home at Christmas.
“We had just shaved his head the night before,” said Benjamin Wachman, Marta’s closest friend.
The two had been on the Yuba City High swim team together.
“He was like my brother,” Wachman said.
Wachman said he never feared for his friend’s safety.
“Living so close to Beale (Air Force Base), we’ve known so many people who have come back and are just fine,” he said.
Before his enlistment, Marta had been a student at California State University, Channel Islands and Butte College.
Marta’s decision to join the Army, after considering the other military branches, surprised Stone.
An outspoken critic of the war in Afghanistan, Stone said she nonetheless accepted her son’s choice right away.
“I am totally against the war, but totally for the armed forces,” Stone said. The military “is what keeps us free.”
The original version of this story written by Nancy Pasternack appeared in the Appeal-Democrat on Thursday.