Staff Sgt. Matthew McClintock of Des Moines was killed in action Tuesday in Helmand province of southern Afghanistan.

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Staff Sgt. Matthew McClintock, a Washington National Guard soldier from Des Moines, was killed in action Tuesday in Helmand province of southern Afghanistan.

McClintock, 30, was on his third combat tour of duty and is the first U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan in 2016.

“The death of any service member is tragic,” said Gov. Jay Inslee in a statement released Wednesday. “The death of one of our own is especially difficult to grasp. My thoughts and prayers are with Staff Sergeant McClintock’s friends and family, including his wife and infant son. He is a true American hero who stood up to protect his state and nation.”

Maj. Gen Bret Daugherty, commander of the Washington National Guard, called McClintock “one of the best of the best.“

Daugherty said McClintock was a Green Beret “who sacrificed time away from his loved ones to train for and carry out these dangerous missions. “

McClintock was with the Washington National Guard since 2014 and joined after serving several years as an active-duty soldier. He deployed with the Washington National Guard’s A Co. 1/19th Special Forces Group in July 2015.

Some 350 members of the Washington National Guard are serving in locations around the world.

U.S. troops first deployed to Afghanistan in the aftermath of the post-9/11 attacks in 2001. The numbers of U.S. service members in Afghanistan have been sharply reduced in recent years as Afghans take on more of the fighting.

New reports indicate that McClintock was killed as he came under fire in the town of Marjah, where he served with Afghan Special Operations forces. Two other U.S. service members were wounded, and a U.S. medical evacuation helicopter was damaged as its rotor struck a compound wall, according to The New York Times.