Three Illinois Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan

Troops died Sunday near Kot, Afghanistan

Three Illinois Army National Guard soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, the Department of Military Affairs has confirmed.

Sgt. Christopher Abeyta, 23; Spc. Robert Weinger, 24 and Spc. Norman Cain III, 22, were all assigned to Company D, 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry based in Woodstock.  An active-duty Airman from Tucson, Ariz., was also killed in the incident

Specialist Cain died at the scene of the incident in Kot; Abeyta and Weinger were transported to Jalalabad, Afghanistan, where they later died.

The unit deployed to Afghanistan as part of the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) and is providing security for Provincial Reconstruction Teams, which are helping the Afghan government build roads, hospitals, government buildings and other infrastructure, the release said. The unit arrived in Afghanistan in late October 2008. 

Cain, a resident of Mount Morris, Ill., graduated from Freeport High School in Freeport, Ill., in 2006.  He enlisted in the Illinois Army National Guard in July 2007.  This was Cain’s first deployment.  He was married with two children.

Weinger was a lifelong resident of Round Lake Beach after graduating from Round Lake Area School District 116, the Daily Herald reportedHis profile is filled with tributes to the fallen soldier from friends and well-wishers thanking him for being a hero.

Hoping to follow in the footsteps of his father, a Lake County Sheriff's deputy, Weinger hoped for a career in law enforcement and thought that joining the Gaurd, as he did in 2006, would help him achieve that goal. 

His tour in Afghanistan came after a tour in Iraq that he completed in October, 2007.

According to, Abeyta hailed from Midlothian, and graduated from Bremen High School in 2003, where he was a wrestler. He graduated in 2007 from Harold Washington College and had been working as a criminal background investigator.

"It's a very, very sad day for our state.  We have taken horrific losses in Afghanistan, our Illinois National Guard," said Gov. Pat Quinn during a press event Tuesday.

Abeyta, Weinger and Cain are the 9th, 10th and 11th casualties from the Illinois Army National Guard’s 33rd IBCT since their deployment to Afghanistan.  No information on funeral arrangements has been determined at this time.

These are the 25th, 26th and 27th casualties the Illinois National Guard has suffered since operations in Afghanistan and Iraq began.  

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