Sprague community describes fallen soldier as "quiet leader"

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by WHITNEY WARD, MIKE GONZALEZ & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on June 10, 2014 at 5:55 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 11 at 5:27 AM

SPRAGUE, Wash.—Friends and family of a 22-year-old soldier from Sprague confirmed Monday that he was among five killed in a friendly fire airstrike in southern Afghanistan.

U.S. Defense officials said the Americans killed were part of special operations troop. An Afghan officer was also killed in the coalition airstrike.

One of the victims was a Sprague High School graduate, Justin Clouse, according to his family and friends.

READ: Sprague man killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan

Officials believed the soldiers came into contact with Taliban fighters, called in for air support, and may have mistakenly been hit by friendly fire.

Sprague residents said Clouse would be honored for his sacrifice.

“Rather quiet, but he was a quiet leader,” said schools superintendent Pat Whipple.

WATCH: Sprague residents remember soldier killed in Afghanistan

Staff at Sprague High School got word Tuesday morning that the 2010 graduate was killed in Afghanistan.

“You know, when you only have eleven kids in school, you get pretty attached….so the whole community is grieving,” Whipple said.

Clouse played varsity football during his time at Sprague High School. He was also captain of the basketball team and ASB vice president.

One of Clouse’s old coaches had kept in touch with Clouse even after he joined the military.

“I talked to him Saturday actually. And he's the type of kid, the first thing he asks is, 'Hey, old man. How you doin? How's the family?' He's in Afghanistan and he's more worried about how I'm doing,” said Clouse’s former coach Chad Prewitt.

Flags at the high school were at half-staff on Tuesday in memory of Clouse.

“He was just so excited to serve his country,” said Prewitt. “Big heart. Big burly guy on the outside. And you'd see him and think he was such a strong guy. But deep down, he was one of the most caring people I've ever met.”

School officials said they planned to have a memorial service for Clouse in the fall. Military funeral arrangements were still being finalized on Tuesday.
 

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