Airman from Oregon dies in non-combat incident in Syria

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Defense Department says a U.S. Air Force airman from Oregon has died in a non-combat incident in Syria.

In a news release Thursday, the department said Staff Sgt. Austin Bieren of Umatilla died Tuesday in northern Syria, where he had been deployed in support of combat operations. The 25-year-old security forces airman was assigned to the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.

A statement from the base says Bieren died from “suspected natural causes.” Wing commander Col. Douglas Schiess says Bieren was a beloved member of the team and will be sorely missed.

Bieren graduated from Umatilla High School in 2010 and entered the Air Force that November. He had been stationed at Peterson since June 2014.