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Military meeting sought for Kenefick kin; Hochul, Schumer seek briefing for Amherst family and relatives of 4 others killed in Afghan incident

Two federal lawmakers have asked top officials of the military to meet with the families of servicemen who were killed during a controversial incident in the Ganjgal Valley of Afghanistan in September 2009.

Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul, D-Amherst, and Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., sent letters this week to the secretaries of the Army and Navy, asking for a special briefing for family members of those who were slain, including Amherst native Aaron Kenefick, a Marine gunnery sergeant.

"The families deserve to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth," Schumer said in a news release. "I'm going to keep pressing [the Defense Department] to ensure that family members of these heroes get the heroes they're seeking."

In an incident that was the subject of a highly critical Defense Department report, Kenefick and four other servicemen were killed in an ambush in the small village of Ganjgal. Eight Afghan Army soldiers and an interpreter working with them were also killed in the Sept. 8, 2009, ambush.

A 500-page Defense Department investigative report noted that Kenefick and others became pinned down by enemy gunfire, and repeatedly asked for additional air and artillery support from their superiors, but were repeatedly turned down.

According to Susan Price, Kenefick's mother, the explanations of what happened given by military officials have not answered many of the questions that surviving family members have.

Her son and four others who were killed were embedded as trainers with the Afghan Army and Afghan Border Patrol.

"We still don't know why these men were sent into an ambush, and why they got no help when their lives were in danger," Price told The Buffalo News.

"After personally receiving a briefing from the Army and Marines last month, and learning about the 'inadequate and ineffective' decisions that led directly to the loss of life that day, I promised the families that I would keep fighting until they got these answers," Hochul said.

email: dherbeck@buffnews.com