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A Hero Dies in Afghanistan

One could now accurately write that headline more than once a day, unfortunately. But this one stands out for me, mostly because he came from roughly where I grew up, and also because he was an acquaintance of someone close to me. His mission in life was to provide poor people with clean water and other basic infrastructure, and he died for it.

An Army reservist and native of Hamden [CT] who worked to provide clean water to villages in Uganda was killed while on patrol in Afghanistan Friday.

Benjamin Sklaver, 32, son of Laura and Gary Sklaver of Hamden, was one of two soldiers killed in an ambush, his mother said Saturday.

“We were told that his team was on patrol on foot in a town and they were ambushed by a suicide bomber,” Laura Sklaver said....

He was a captain in the 422nd Civil Affairs Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, on his second tour of duty. In his first, he served in the Horn of Africa, near the Ugandan-Sudanese border, his mother said, providing water infrastructure. “He had a special interest in humanitarian work, and especially clean water projects,” she said.

In Afghanistan, Ben Sklaver’s unit also was building infrastructure, Laura Sklaver said, enabling villagers to resist the insurgency. “If the same infrastructure is offered to them by al-Qaida they will have the wherewithal to say no,” she said. “Villagers could return to their old village if they had clean water there.”

Working on such projects in northern Uganda inspired him, his mother said. “While he was in Uganda, he believed so strongly in what they were doing that he wanted to continue the work they were doing and they started a small nonprofit,” called ClearWater Initiative, Laura Sklaver said.

A letter on the company Web site,, from the Ugandan village of Apookeni thanks the man they call “Moses Ben” for bringing a clean water supply to the people.

“It doesn’t cost very much money, $1,000 or $2,000, to build a well ... that supports a village for an indefinite period. That’s what he loved to do,” Laura Sklaver said.

You could honor his memory by offering a donation here.