Fact Check: Image Of Three Male Soldiers On Social Media Does NOT Correctly Identify U.S. Service Members Killed In Jordan In January 2024

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: Image Of Three Male Soldiers On Social Media Does NOT Correctly Identify U.S. Service Members Killed In Jordan In January 2024 Killed In 2016

Does a composite photo on social media accurately identify three U.S. service members who died in the January 2024 drone attack on a U.S. base in Jordan? No, that's not true: Those posts reused an old image of other American soldiers who died in a 2016 incident in Jordan. The correct names of the three service members -- two men and a woman -- killed in the January 2024 drone attack in Jordan were released by the Department of Defense on January 29, 2024.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) on X, formerly known as Twitter, on January 28, 2024. It opened:

The picture is of three American who were killed in a drone attack by the resistance on the American base in Syria-Jordan border.

This is what the post looked like on X at the time of writing:

Screen Shot 2024-01-29 at 6.30.01 PM.png

Twitter screenshot(Source: X screenshot taken on Mon Jan 29 23:30:01 2024 UTC)

The post was published shortly after the January 2024 incident had been announced.

A January 28, 2024, U.S. Central Command press release (archived here) said that the attack took place "near the Syria border" and added:

As a matter of respect for the families and in accordance with DoD policy, the identities of the servicemembers will be withheld until 24 hours after their next of kin have been notified.

As reported by NPR (archived here), the target of the attack was Tower 22 in northeast Jordan, a base that "supports the Al-Tanf Garrison in southeastern Syria, where U.S. special operations have long operated in tandem with other countries in combating Islamic State militants." At least 34 other service members were wounded.

On January 29, 2024, the Department of Defense issued another press release (archived here) identifying the deceased as "three Army Reserve soldiers supporting Operation Inherent Resolve":

Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, 46, of Carrollton, GA.; Spc. Kennedy Ladon Sanders, 24, of Waycross, Ga.; and Spc. Breonna Alexsondria Moffett, 23, of Savannah, Ga., died Jan. 28, 2024, in Jordan, when a one way unmanned aerial system (OWUAS) impacted their container housing units. The incident is under investigation.

On the same day, credible media outlets, including CBS News (archived here) published the photos of the service members:

Screen Shot 2024-01-29 at 5.21.32 PM.png

(Source: CBS News screenshot taken on Mon Jan 29 22:21:32 2024 UTC)

The people whose faces were seen in the post on X that is the focus of this fact check were also American service members who died in Jordan, but that happened years before the January 2024 incident.

The composite image reused on X appeared for the first time on November 6, 2016, in a Military.com article (archived here) citing the U.S. Army as a source of the photos.

A Pentagon press release (archived here) issued earlier on the same day in 2016 officially named the deceased soldiers:

They died Nov. 4 in Jafr, Jordan, of wounds sustained when their convoy came under fire entering a Jordanian military base. The incident is under investigation. The soldiers were assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Killed were:

Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Lewellen, 27, of Lawrence, Kansas;

Staff Sgt. Kevin J. McEnroe, 30, of Tucson, Arizona; and

Staff Sgt. James F. Moriarty, 27, of Kerrville, Texas.

Another source, a database tracking deaths of service members maintained by Military Times, also says that all three men from the incorrect image on X died in 2016 (here, here and here.)

The account that shared the claim -- @sprinter99800 -- previously promoted other false narratives as reported by Lead Stories here, here, here and here.

Other Lead Stories fact checks about stories taking place overseas can be found here.

Want to inform others about the accuracy of this story?

See who is sharing it (it might even be your friends...) and leave the link in the comments.:

  Uliana Malashenko

Uliana Malashenko is a New York-based freelance writer and fact checker.

Read more about or contact Uliana Malashenko

About Us

International Fact-Checking Organization Meta Third-Party Fact Checker

Lead Stories is a fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, misleading, deceptive or inaccurate stories, videos or images going viral on the internet.
Spotted something? Let us know!.

Lead Stories is a:


Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required

Please select all the ways you would like to hear from Lead Stories LLC:

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

Most Read

Most Recent

Share your opinion