Fairbanks-based soldier killed in Afghanistan, 2 wounded

STEVE RUARK / Associated Press

A soldier based at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks was killed last weekend in a surprise attack inside a U.S. base in Afghanistan by a man dressed in an Afghan soldier's uniform.

The U.S. Army in Alaska on Tuesday identified the American soldier, a member of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, as Pfc. Dustin Paul Napier, 20, from London, Ky. He was shot Sunday afternoon in Qalat in Afghanistan's Zabul Province.

Two other 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team soldiers were wounded. All three were from the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment.

The New York Times reported Sunday that the American soldiers were playing volleyball when the Afghan man, identified only as Shafiullah, approached and appeared to watch the game. He then opened fire on the Americans with his M-16 rifle. The Afghan was killed by another American soldier, the Times reported.

The Times quoted an Afghan provincial official as saying that Shafiullah was a soldier in the Afghanistan army. The official described him as a religious man who spent much of his time at a mosque near the base. American officials were investigating whether he was planted in the Afghan army by the Taliban.

Afghan army spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said the reason for the attack was under investigation, The Associated Press reported.

"Right now, an investigation is going on to determine whether he really was a soldier or someone using an army uniform. And if he was a soldier, what caused the shooting," Asimi said.

The U.S. Army in Alaska said Napier joined up in July 2010 and arrived at Fort Wainwright that November.

He was the 19th soldier from the 4,000-member Stryker brigade to die since it began its one-year deployment to Afghanistan in April 2011.

In Kentucky, friends and teachers mourned Napier's death.

The Herald-Leader in Lexington said Napier had always wanted to be a soldier. He wore camouflage and combat boots nearly every day at South Laurel High School, and was the ROTC cadet commander there in his senior year. Principal David Cummins described Napier as a "model student."

Napier's father was also soldier and served for five years. He told the Herald-Leader that his son was born in an Army hospital and died in one.

Napier's friends were in shock.

"Woke up this morning and was hoping it was a bad dream," said Shawn Philpot, a close friend, according to WLEX-TV news in Lexington. "I just dropped my phone, collapsed on the floor. I don't think I've ever cried so hard in my life."

"We were a family," fellow ROTC member Megan Daugherty told WLEX. "He was our brother, and we lost a brother."

The television station and newspaper reported that Napier married Tabitha Sturgill of Eolia, Ky., in October and that his wife was living in Alaska.

Anchorage Daily News / adn.com