Three airmen died in southern Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device struck their vehicle, announced the Defense Department. Killed on Jan. 5 in Shir ghazi in Helmand province were explosive ordnance disposal technicians: TSgt. Matthew S. Schwartz, 34, of Traverse City, Mich.; SrA. Bryan R. Bell, 23, of Erie, Pa.; and A1C Matthew R. Seidler, 24, of Westminster, Md. Schwartz was assigned to the 90th Civil Engineer Squadron at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo. Bell was a member of the 2nd CES at Barksdale AFB, La. Seidler’s home unit was the 21st CES at Peterson AFB, Colo. “We all mourn the loss of Sergeant Schwartz,” said Col. Christopher Coffelt, commander of F.E. Warren’s 90th Missile Wing. “Our sincerest condolences go out to his family during this difficult time.” Bell had been deployed in Afghanistan since October 2011. He had been in the Air Force for nearly five years. Commenting on Seidler, Lt. Col. Mark Donnithorne, 21st CES commander, said “EOD airmen have been vital to Operation Enduring Freedom, and unfortunately, the pride we’ll feel when we see Matt’s name on the EOD Memorial Wall at Eglin [AFB, Fla.,] will not extinguish the sorrow we feel from his loss.” (Barksdale release, Peterson release, and F.E. Warren release) (See also Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report on Bell, Associated Press report on Schwartz, and Colorado Springs Gazette report on Seidler.) (Our initial coverage)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.