A Reedsport High School graduate was killed Friday by small arms fire while on patrol in Ghazni Province in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense announced Monday.
Army Capt. James D. Nehl, 37, died in Ghazni Province in the southeast portion of the country while serving with a unit based at Fort Riley, Kan.
He is the eighth Douglas County native or resident to be killed in Afghanistan or Iraq since 2005.
Nehl graduated from Reedsport High in 1993 and was a good student, longtime social studies teacher Keith Tymchuk said Monday.
“He was a very nice young man — serious, studious and wanted to do the right thing,” said Tymchuk, the city’s mayor. “I just think he was somebody who was interested in coming to school and being a good citizen and doing what was required.
“It’s tragic that our community had to lose one of its best and brightest. It’s sad for our community and our nation,” Tymchuk said.
Retired teacher Jim Wells recalled today that Nehl’s dream was to be an Army airborne ranger.
“An Army career was exactly what he wanted to do,” Wells said.
Wells recalled that Nehl played football, swam and ran track. He remembered Nehl and his sister, Charlene Nehl, as unusually mature teens.
“He was a quiet young man, really very sensitive, very self contained,” he said.
Ghazni Province, one of 34 Afghanistan provinces, lies along a 300-mile highway linking Afghanistan’s two largest cities, Kabul and Khandahar.
The Pakistan Observer newspaper reported that two Afghan and two Pakistani members of the Taliban were killed earlier in the week during an armed skirmish in Ghazni Province. There’s no indication that incident was related to the firefight that took Nehl’s life.
Nehl was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.
The others with Douglas County ties killed in Afhanistan or Iraq were Marine Cpl. James L. Moore, Army Spc. Ricky W. Rockholt Jr., both of Roseburg; Army Pfc. Dean R. Bright of Sutherlin; Army Spc. Daniel A. Leckel of Glendale; Army Pvt. Joshua A.R. Young of Riddle; Navy Petty Officer David Mudge; and Army Sgt. Joshua Lengstorf, who grew up in Elkton and later lived in Yoncalla.