Pfc. Dustin P. Napier, a native of London, was only 20 when he died Sunday in the city of Qalat, in Afghanistan's Zabul province. He'll be buried 1 p.m. this afternoon in his hometown.
Pfc. Napier, assigned to the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, was living his dream as an American soldier, say family, friends, fellow soldiers and high school classmates and teachers.
He pursued his dream to be a soldier in the JROTC program at South Laurel High School, where he was cadet commander in his senior year and the most decorated cadet. When he graduated in 2010 he enlisted in the Army, reporting for basic training in July of that year.
Teachers remember Pfc. Napier as a young man who did well in school and never caused problems; his peers describe him as a fun-loving young man who loved The Doors and goofed around playing air guitar.
But he never lost sight of his goal and served as a role model for fellow cadets. "He taught us discipline, self-respect and basic core values," said Ashley Smith, who served with him in JROTC. "He said, 'Service before self,' and he not only talked it, he did it," she said.
Pfc. Napier, who was married in October, is survived by his wife, Tabitha Sturgill Napier, in addition to his parents, Darrell and Marianne Napier of London; a brother and a stepson.
We honor his service and his sacrifice.