A Wichita soldier has died from wounds suffered in an improvised explosive device attack in Afghanistan, the Army announced Friday.
Sgt. Justin A. Officer, 26, died Wednesday in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. He was injured after insurgents attacked his unit using the explosive.
His father, Timothy Officer of Colorado Springs, said Justin Officer lived in Wichita from 1999 through February 2003, when he moved with his family to Colorado.
"Justin was a great son," Timothy Officer said in an e-mail to The Eagle. "Growing up, he liked typical boy adventures, like camping, fishing and playing video games. Unfortunately, like many boys, he did not care much for school.
"From an early age he was loving, caring and had a big heart."
Timothy Officer said his son later moved back to Wichita because he missed his friends. He joined the Army in March 2004 and served two tours of duty in Iraq before his deployment to Afghanistan.
Earlier this year, Justin Officer was awarded his Silver Spurs, a traditional Cavalry honor earned by passing a multi-day series of physical and mental tests that evaluate leadership, technical and tactical proficiency, and the ability to operate as part of a team under high stress and fatigue.
His father said the family also bought him a black Stetson — another Cavalry tradition — for Christmas.
"You should know most of all, Justin was due to leave the Army and did not have to go on this deployment," Timothy Officer said. "He told us repeatedly he was leaving the Army to pursue school. Justin changed his mind as the deployment grew near and extended his enlistment long enough to take the deployment.
"I asked him why many times, until he left. His only reply was 'he could help the new kids that were assigned to his unit and might save their lives.' "
The Army said Sgt. Officer's awards and decorations include the National Defense Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Combat Action Badge and the Air Assault Badge.
A memorial service will be held in Afghanistan.