A soldier from south-central Kentucky who was killed in Afghanistan is being remembered as well-liked, well-respected and a good role model.
Army officials say 20-year-old PFC Dustin P. Napier of London died Sunday due to injuries from enemy small-arms fire. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion; 24th Infantry Regiment; 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team; 25th Infantry Division based in Fort Wainwright, Alaska.
Students and teachers at South Laurel High School, where Napier graduated in 2010, were especially saddened when they received word of Napier’s death, The Times-Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/zmd3lQ ).
Napier died Sunday in the city of Qalat, in Zabul province, according to the Defense Department statement and a report from Army Alaska. Napier was playing volleyball at a camp when a man dressed in an Afghan Army uniform opened fire, according to the newspaper Stars and Stripes, which is not affiliated with the military.
Two other Stryker soldiers were wounded in the attack, according to the Army.
A New York Times report that describes the shooting but does not identify Napier by name identifies the shooter as a man named Shafiullah from the Pashtun region of Pakistan.
Shafiullah was shot and killed by another American soldier who heard the firing.
The shooter’s status in the Afghan army and his motives for shooting American soldiers was not immediately clear, according to the report; unlike some past cases of Afghan soldiers killing coalition forces, the Taliban did not immediately claim credit for the attack.
Outside the school on Monday, the American flag stood at half-staff, while those inside shared their memories of Napier.
COL Mark Jones with the Air Force Junior ROTC said everyone at the school was saddened by the news and the JROTC plans a memorial service for Napier on Friday.
“I remember Napier when he was here, and I remember him as a model student, very quiet and serious,” Jones said.
South Laurel’s Principal David Cummins said Napier was a “model student.”
“The last couple of days have been really trying around here with his loss,” Cummins said. “A lot of students really looked up to him as a role model and someone they could believe in.”
High school senior Devan Burkhart, who is cadet captain of the school’s JROTC program, said he remembers Napier as “a good friend, a good mentor, and truly a good person.”
“He really had a kind of charisma about him that you liked,” Burkhart said. “What I learned in the JROTC program as far as the Color Guard, the Drill Team and other things, I learned from him. He was the one who would tell me, ‘Stick with it,’ when I got frustrated with the program, and I did stick with it.”
Junior Ashley Smith, who also participates in the JROTC program, said she remembers getting encouragement and support from Napier.
“He encouraged me to go into the Army …” she said. “He taught us discipline, self-respect and basic core values. He said, ‘Service before self,’ and he not only talked it, he did it. Dustin lived his dream, which was to be an American soldier.”
Napier was married in October, according to the Kentucky TV station WLEX.
PFC Napier is the 1,873rd American to die in Afghanistan … Ich hatt’ einen Kameraden