Maj. Jaimie Leonard's West Point, Warwick HS classmates mourn slain soldier

Maj. Jaimie Leonard was killed Saturday when a Maj. Jaimie Leonard was killed Saturday when a man in an Afghan army uniform opened fire on her and two other Americans on an Afghan National Army base in the eastern province of Paktika, officials said. Photo Credit: News12

advertisement | advertise on newsday

The fatal shooting of intelligence officer Maj. Jaimie Leonard, a graduate of Warwick Valley High School and West Point, in an "insider" attack in Afghanistan, has inspired a torrent of online tributes from friends, teachers and classmates.

Leonard was killed when a man in an Afghan army uniform opened fire on the 39-year-old and two other Americans from New York Saturday on an Afghan National Army base at Zarghun Shahr in the eastern province of Paktika, officials said.

Warwick Valley High School posted a tribute to the 1992 graduate on its website.

"She embodied the best a person can be -- a leader in the classroom and in this building," teacher Ed Sattler said. An unnamed acquaintance recalled her passion and how "once she decided to go to West Point she was completely dedicated and determined to serve her country."

Meg Scanlon, a fellow cadet at West Point, posted a reflection on Twitter: "Profoundly sad at the loss of my friend and West Point classmate Jaimie Leonard in Afghanistan. She will be forever missed."

Amanda Coussoule, like Leonard a 1997 U.S. Military Academy graduate, said news of a classmate's death always comes as a shock.

"When you're a West Point graduate, when it comes to your classmates -- whether you were good friends, casual acquaintances, or just familiar with a face -- you're all part of the Long Gray Line," she wrote in a blog post. "So once again we grip hands though it be from the shadows, and we say: Well done. Be thou at peace."

Leonard's body is scheduled to arrive at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Wednesday.

Leonard is the second former Warwick resident slain in an "insider" attack in Afghanistan in two months. On May 4, Staff Sgt. Eric Christian was fatally shot by an Afghan soldier while he and five other Marines were escorting a U.S. official and two intelligence officers to a meeting at an Afghan Army base.

A spokesman for the Paktika provincial governor said three other Americans were wounded in the attack that killed Leonard and the attacker was shot dead soon after opening fire.

The other fatalities in the latest attack were Lt. Col. Todd Clark, 40, a native of Albany, and private security contractor Joseph Morabito, 54, of Hunter in the Catskills. Morabito's wife, Andrea, said her husband was working as part of a group training Afghan police officers.

Leonard and Clark, whose body also was en route to Dover Air Force Base, both served in the 10th Mountain Division. Clark, a security force assistance advisory team commander, is survived by his parents and two children in addition to his wife.

Leonard is survived by five siblings. Among her awards and decorations are: two Bronze Stars, two Meritorious Service Medals and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.

She deployed to Bosnia in 1999, to Iraq in 2005 and to Afghanistan in 2011 before returning there with her unit in January 2013.

With Reuters and The Associated Press

You also may be interested in: