Soldier from Alaska dies in Afghanistan

Published: Dec. 12, 2017 at 7:54 PM AKST
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A U.S. Army Alaska Soldier from Alaska died Tuesday. The military says it was "from injuries sustained in a non-combat vehicle accident in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan."

Staff Sgt. David Thomas Brabander, 24, was an airborne infantryman and served as a squad leader in the 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

According to the Governor's office, he was from Wasilla.

His older sister Brittany Hunnings told Channel 2 that her brother loved to hunt and fish and that he was proud to serve his country.

"He died doing something that he loved," said Hunnings, "something that he was proud of. He believed that we should be there (in Afghanistan) helping the people that we should help them."

Hunnings says her brother was very close to his family.

"He was a very big family man, very very adamant about loving his family, very close with his friends," Hunnings said.

A close friend of Brabander, Army Spc. Daniel Hernandez, describes Brabander as highly intelligent, kind and incredibly loyal.

"One time my car broke down and I sent him a message and he was there right away," Hernandez said.

Brabander deployed with the brigade to Afghanistan in September, 2017 in support of Operation Freedom Sentinel.

Brabander enlisted in the U.S. Army in March, 2012 in Anchorage, Alaska. He was assigned to U.S. Army Alaska since November 2015.

His previous assignment was in Hawaii.

Governor Bill Walker ordered that United States and Alaska State flags be immediately lowered to half-staff in honor of Brabander.

"Staff Sergeant David Brabander died in service to his country, fellow Alaskans and his family," Governor Walker said in a news release. "When a soldier is deployed, his loved ones are enlisted for an emotional journey. I urge Alaskans to support David's friends and family during this incredibly difficult time. Byron, Toni, Donna and I are holding them in our prayers."