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July 13, 2014

Wanat families commemorate battle

VALDOSTA — Survivors and family of the brutal Afghanistan battle of Wanat plan to honor the nine servicemen killed in action six years ago today by skydiving this morning.

One person attending the Skydive Tuskegee event is Frankie Gay of Lowndes County whose son, Army Cpl. Pruitt Allen Rainey, 22, of North Carolina, was killed at Wanat.

Next week, the Wanat soldiers and the nine fallen families are scheduled to attend the Medal of Honor ceremony for Sgt. Ryan Pitts, Gay said via email Saturday.

“Ryan survived the OP Topside with Pruitt and lived to help us tell the story of the Chosen Few. (President Barack) Obama will present him with the Medal of Honor Monday (July 21) after lunch on all major networks,” Gay said. “It’s the first time all of the families and all of the soldiers will be together since the battle. We are having a private screening of the true-life documentary film ‘Dealin” while in D.C. for the families and soldiers. The movie ‘Wanat’ is now in contract and production should start very soon.”

On July 13, 2008, Army Cpl. Pruitt Allen Rainey was among a small number of American soldiers in Chosen Company. They had been assigned with little equipment, shelter or reinforcements to an area of Afghanistan infiltrated by the enemy Taliban.

In a fight with what has been described as hundreds of Taliban, nine American soldiers, including Rainey, were killed and 30 more wounded.

Gay and his son had been estranged during Rainey’s childhood, but they came to know each other in the months prior to the corporal’s death. They shared a love of poker and they often spoke of playing a Vegas tournament upon Rainey’s return to the states. Gay said he heard from Rainey by email almost daily during the Afghanistan tour. They spoke often on the phone.

After the military, Rainey planned to attend the University of Florida. He wanted to be a wrestling coach.

Then, amidst all of the plans for the future, Rainey died in Wanat.

In the years since, the families have looked for answers but have received few answers from the Army. Gay produced the documentary “Dealin’” to chronicle what happened at Wanat and to families in the aftermath.

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