Waikoloa Special Forces soldier killed in Afghanistan

  • Sgt. 1st Class Reymund Rarogal Transfiguracion, 36, from Waikoloa, died Sunday from wounds he received earlier this month in southern Afghanistan. He was wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated near him while he was on patrol. (U.S. Army via AP)

KAILUA-KONA — One of Hawaii Island’s own, Sgt. 1st Class Reymund R. Transfiguracion, died Sunday from wounds he suffered five days before while serving his country in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

A press release from 1st Special Forces Command described the fatal incident as an improvised explosive device, or IED, attack. The incident, which occurred on Aug. 7, remains under investigation.

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Transfiguracion, of Waikoloa, is survived by his wife Edelyn and two young daughters. He was 36 years old.

“Reymund was a great man,” his wife said in a statement. “We are very proud of him.”

He was the first serviceman from Hawaii Island to die during active duty since July of 2011 when 19-year-old marine Lance Cpl. Christopher L. Camero gave his life in service of his country, also in Helmand province.

A native of the Philippines, Transfiguracion was born in Sarrat Ilocos Norte on May 20, 1982. He graduated from Konawaena High School in 2001, after which he immediately joined with the Hawaii National Guard.

He became a motor transport operator and later deployed with the guard as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2005-06. Transfiguracion joined active duty Army in February 2008 and returned to Iraq, this time in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, where he served through 2009.

Upon his arrival back in the United States, Transfiguracion took up at Schofield Barracks, from which he deployed to the Philippines for six months between 2010-11 in support of a Joint Special Operations Task Force, according to the release.

His service carried him to stops across the mainland including in Missouri and Louisiana before he was selected to serve in Special Forces. He was eventually assigned to Joint Base Lewis – McChord and B Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) as an engineer sergeant, the release said.

Transfiguracion returned to the Middle East in March 2018, deploying to Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, where he would die some five months later.

High-ranking state and national officials issued statements Monday in commemoration of Transfiguracion’s sacrifice.

“Staff Sergeant Reymund Transfiguracion served our country and the people of Hawaii honorably in the U.S. Army and as a member of the Hawaii National Guard,” U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono said in a release. “My condolences and aloha are with Staff Sergeant Transfiguracion’s wife Edelyn, their two daughters, and the Transfiguracion ohana.”

Gov. David Ige offered a similar sentiment in a release.

“Hawaii has lost a brave soldier who sacrificed his life serving his country,” Ige wrote. “My deepest condolences to Sgt. 1st Class Transfiguracion’s wife and children, and his entire ohana. Let our community come together to support them now and in the coming months.”

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Over the course of his career, Transfiguracion won a host of awards and decorations. The Army posthumously promoted him to Sgt. 1st Class and awarded him the Bronze Star Medal, his second Purple Heart and the Meritorious Service Medal.

Maj. Beth Riordan, director of public of affairs for 1st Special Forces Command, said the timeline for Transfiguracion’s return to the U.S. is still pending.