Willingboro, N.J. man among 3 Army reservists killed in drone attack on U.S. base in Jordan

Sgt. William Rivers enlisted in the Army Reserve in 2011 as an Interior Electrician.

William Rivers

Sergeant William Rivers of Willingboro, N.J. (6abc)

This story originally appeared on 6abc.

A South Jersey man was identified as one of the three American service members killed in a drone attack at a U.S. base in Jordan over the weekend.

The Department of Defense identified the three fallen U.S. Army Reserve soldiers as Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, 46, of Willingboro, N.J.; Spc. Kennedy Ladon Sanders, 24, of Waycross, Ga.; Spc. Breonna Alexsondria Moffett, 23, of Savannah, Ga.

The soldiers died on Jan. 28, 2024, when a one-way unmanned aerial system impacted their container housing units near the Syrian border, the U.S. military said. The incident is under investigation.

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Rivers, who lived in Carrollton, Ga., enlisted in the Army Reserve in 2011 as an Interior Electrician (12R). He was first assigned to the 990th Engineer Company at Fort McGuire-Dix in New Jersey after completing advanced individual training.

In 2018, Rivers completed a nine-month rotation to Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

In 2023, Sgt. Rivers was assigned to the 718th Engineer Company, 926th Engineer Battalion, 926th Engineer Brigade, Fort Moore, Ga.

“Sergeant Rivers served with courage, honor, and a deep sense of duty, embodying the best of New Jersey and our nation. His death is a profound loss to his family, friends, colleagues, and our entire country, and a reminder of the heavy debt we owe to our military families for their sacrifice,” said New Jersey Senator Cory Booker in a statement.

Governor Phil Murphy said he would sign an executive order later this week lowering flags at half-staff to honor Rivers.

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Sergeant William Rivers of Willingboro, who was among three U.S. soldiers killed in the terrorist attack in Jordan this weekend,” said Murphy in a statement. “As parents, Tammy and I send our heartfelt sympathies to all three families who now face the unimaginable pain of losing a cherished loved one. As Americans, we share our gratitude for the soldiers’ bravery and sacrifice, and for the courage of every servicemember fighting terrorism at home and abroad, to whom we owe a debt we can never repay.”

River’s awards and decorations include the Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, two Army Reserve Component Overseas Training Ribbon, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with “M” Device, and the Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal with Campaign Star.

Thirty-four American service members were also injured in the drone attack, according to U.S. officials.

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The U.S. was collecting information on Sunday, but officials “know it was carried out by radical Iran-backed militant groups operating in Syria and Iraq,” President Joe Biden said Sunday.

Nasser Kanaani, an Iranian ministry spokesperson, on Monday said accusations that Iran was behind the attack amounted to a “repetition of baseless accusations.”

“The groups in the region do not take orders from Iran,” Kanaani said. “War is not a solution. An immediate cease-fire in Gaza can lead to the return of peace.”

Biden is weighing several options for a response to the strike, John Kirby, spokesperson for the National Security Council, said on “Good Morning America” on Monday. He said it was clear to the U.S. that Iran has been supporting Houthi, Hezbollah and Hamas militants in the region.

“We’re not looking for a broader war in the region,” Kirby told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. “We certainly aren’t looking for conflict with Iran.”

He added, “But make no mistake, Iran is supporting these groups. They’re resourcing them, training them, certainly not discouraging these attacks at all.”

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