WNYT.com

Two local men killed in same attack in Afghanistan

Posted at: 06/09/2013 7:08 PM
Updated at: 06/10/2013 1:12 AM
By: Steve Flamisch

Lt. Col. Todd Clark in 2010.
Lt. Col. Todd Clark in 2010.
Photo: File / WNYT

ALBANY -- An Albany native who served 17 years in the U.S. Army and a Greene County man who worked side-by-side with the military were killed Saturday in the same attack in Afghanistan, NewsChannel 13 has learned.

Lt. Col. Todd Clark, 40, and Joseph Morabito, 54, were among three American trainers shot dead by a man dressed in an Afghan National Army uniform, friends and relatives said. Officials said the shooter was killed in the exchange of gunfire.

"Words cannot describe (the) pain and anguish," Clark's wife, Shelley Wuenstel Clark, posted on Facebook. "I just want him back so bad. Thank you everyone for the kind words. To know Todd was to love him."

Though Clark grew up in the Capital Region, he and his wife lived near Fort Drum in Jefferson County with their two young children, family friends said.

Morabito's wife Andrea, speaking by phone, said her husband was a non-military law enforcement professional (LEP) who would have turned 55 Monday. The couple lived in Hunter.

In addition to his LEP duties, Morabito enjoyed cooking for the troops, a longtime friend said. The service members with whom he worked closely had given Morabito an apron, a chef's hat, utensils, and a plaque of appreciation the day before the attack.

A TRUE, TRUE PATRIOT

Clark spent his youth in Albany and Guilderland, family friends said. He attended Christian Brothers Academy and Texas A&M before following in his father's footsteps by joining the U.S. Army.

His dad, Jack, a retired lieutenant colonel, tends bar at the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Albany, where members gathered Sunday to mourn Todd Clark.

"He was a fine, fine guy," family friend Paul Collins said. "He was a family man but he was a true, true patriot. He did five tours over there."

Clark served three tours of duty in Iraq and two in Afghanistan, family friends said. In September 2010, he received the Purple Heart for injuries he suffered during his first tour in Afghanistan. After recovering, he returned to the war-torn country.

He was killed on the second tour in Afghanistan, along with Mirabito and another U.S. service member whose name and hometown have not been released.

"This is the ultimate price that people pay to defend us," Albany County Comptroller Mike Conners, a longtime friend of the Clark family, said. "We take our freedoms for granted very often."

Fr. Peter Young, who taught Clark's mom, Kathy, in high school and has known the family for decades, said they were receiving the support of his congregation at Albany's Mother Teresa Church, where Jack and Kathy Clark attended mass each Sunday.

"We try to be supportive," Young said. "We try to offer condolences and love, and I think they're aware of that."

Clark's parents live in Guilderland. They declined to comment, requesting privacy during their time of grief. Their other son, Kyle Clark, was too shaken to share his memories and thoughts.

Funeral arrangements for Clark and Morabito were pending.

INSIDER ATTACK

The principal governor's office said the shooter was arguing with his trainers before opening fire on them, the Associated Press (AP) reported. In addition to the three Americans killed, three foreign trainers were wounded in the attack.

The shooter was killed, the international coalition said. A second Afghan man was arrested after the attack. An investigation was underway.

There have been five "insider attacks" on foreign forces this year, the AP reported. A total of eight troops and one U.S. contractor have been killed. However, the number of attacks is down from this time last year.