Remains of Mokena soldier killed in Afghanistan returned to U.S.
SUN-TIMES MEDIA June 12, 2014 7:20PM
A white-gloved Army team carries the transfer case containing the remains of Aaron Toppen upon arrival June 12 at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. | AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana
Updated: June 13, 2014 1:12PM
The remains of a Mokena soldier who was killed in Afghanistan earlier this week were returned to the United States on Thursday.
Soldiers wearing white gloves carried the case bearing the remains of Pvt. Aaron Toppen after it arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
Pvt. Toppen, 19, was among five American troops killed Monday, apparently by friendly fire, during a security operation in southern Afghanistan, according to the Pentagon. Officials said an airstrike was called in after the unit was ambushed by the Taliban. It was one of the deadliest friendly fire incidents in the nearly 14-year war.
On her Facebook page, Toppen’s sister, Amanda Gralewski, said family members were present for the return of her brother, which was “handled in the most respectful manner.” She wrote that the family should know in the next couple days when his remains will be brought to Mokena.
The 2013 Lincoln-Way East High School graduate enlisted in July 2013 and trained at Fort Benning, Ga., an Army spokesman said. He had been awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with campaign star, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon and the NATO Medal.