By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service
July 28, 2010 - The Defense Department has identified two sailors who went missing in Afghanistan's Logar province last week, and U.S. forces there are focused on finding one still unaccounted for, a Pentagon spokesman said today.
U.S. forces in Afghanistan are investigating what caused the two to go missing July 23, but more importantly, Marine Corps Col. David Lapan told reporters, is the effort to find Petty Officer 3rd Class Jarod Newlove, 25, of Renton, Wash.
Newlove was believed to be with Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin McNeley, 30, of Wheatridge, Colo., when the two disappeared from their post in Logar province. McNeley died from wounds suffered in the incident and his body was recovered July 25 after an extensive search, according to a Pentagon press release issued late yesterday. McNeley was assigned to Assault Craft Unit 1 in San Diego, the release said.
Newlove is listed as "duty status whereabouts unknown" and he'll continue to be listed in that status unless or until there is firm evidence that he has been captured, Lapan said. The Taliban's statement of capture is not enough, he said.
Such a status change occurred when the Taliban released videos of Army Spec. Robert "Bowe" Bergdahl. In that case, Lapan said, the videos were authenticated by U.S. officials. Bergdahl, who went missing from his post in Afghanistan on June 30, 2009, is the only U.S. servicemember known to be held captive by the Taliban.
Asked today about Newlove, Lapan said, "There's no information on his whereabouts, but that's what we're working hard to figure out."
Media reports that the sailors were captured after taking a wrong turn in a truck "are highly speculative," Lapan said.
Part of the investigation, Lapan said, is whether there were witnesses to the incident. He acknowledged military officials will not say much about the investigation.
"We don't need to tip off the enemy to what we're doing," he Lapan.
For now, finding Newlove is the top priority, Lapan said.