The gunmen marched the aid workers into the forest, stood 10 of them in a straight line, seven men and three women, and shot them. The police found their bodies Friday.
The mission's team leader, Dr. Tom Little of Delmar, N.Y., an optometrist who had been working in Afghanistan for the past four decades and is a fluent Dari speaker.
Brian Carderelli of Harrisonburg, Virginia, a freelance videographer who worked as a public relations manager for the International School of Kabul. He was recruited by the school shortly after he graduated from James Madison University in 2009. "Brian quickly fell in love with the Afghan people and culture," the school said in a statement.
Daniela Beyer of Chemnitz, Germany, was a linguist and a translator in German, English, and Russian. She also spoke Dari and was learning Pashto. She joined the eye camp so that she could translate for women patients.
Dr. Thomas Grams quit his dental practice in Durango, Colorado, four years ago to work full-time giving poor children free dental care in Afghanistan and Nepal.
Dr. Karen Woo, lone Briton among the dead, gave up her job with a private clinic in London to work in Afghanistan. "The effort is worth it in order to assist those that need it most." She was a general surgeon and went on the trip to bring treatment to mothers in the remote parts of Nuristan.
Dan Terry, who had lived in Afghanistan since 1980 with his wife, rearing three daughters while working with impoverished ethnic groups, trying to make connections between aid organizations and the government to improve services in remote areas. "He had a heart for the rural areas of Afghanistan," International Assistance Mission (IAM) said in a statement.
Glen Lapp, a trained nurse from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, had come to Afghanistan in 2008 for a limited assignment but decided to stay, serving as an executive assistant at IAM and manager of its provincial eye care program, according to the Mennonite Central Committee, a relief group based in Akron, Pennsylvania. "Where I was, the main thing that expats can do is to be a presence in the country...treating people with respect and with love." He also previously helped with medical response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Cheryl Beckett, daughter of a Knoxville, Tennessee, pastor, had spent six years in Afghanistan and specialized in nutritional gardening and mother-child health. She was her high school valedictorian at a Cincinnati-area high school and held a biology degree, had also spent time doing work in Honduras, Mexico, Kenya, and Zimbabwe.
Mahram Ali, an Afghan from eastern Wardak province, had worked as a watchman with NOOR eye hospital in Kabul since 2007. He guarded the team's vehicles as they left them to trek more than 100 miles into Nuristan. He leaves behind a wife and three young children.
Jawed, an Afghan from Panjshir province, worked as a cook at a government eye hospital in Kabul and had been given time off to go with the IAM team. The organization said Jawed, who had gone on a number of similar trips with the IAM eye doctors to Nuristan, was well-loved for his sense of humor. He also helped the doctors hand out eyeglasses.
The police said the aid workers - eye doctors, nurses and technicians - were hiking into one of the toughest areas of the country to provide services. They were advised there was no Taliban active in the area.
The expedition set out three weeks ago to reach the northeastern corner of Nuristan province, traveling by foot with pack horses to carry their medical equipment, and hiking over a 16,000-foot pass into the Parun Valley.
The lone survivor was their Muslim driver who said the missionaries were killed because they were “preaching Christianity” and the Koran teaches muslims to “kill the infidels” in Surah 9:5.
According to the Taliban, 'They were not actually here to provide medication for people but were here for spying," he said. "The punishment for spying is death."
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in Washington, "We are heartbroken by the loss of these heroic, generous people." She condemned the Taliban for the deaths and what she called a "transparent attempt to justify the unjustifiable by making false accusations about their activities."
As we pause a moment in honor of these great men and women, we offer a short prayer to our heavenly Father that You would comfort the grieving families with Your comfort, as the dead receive a martyr’s reward in heaven, in Jesus Name, Amen.