22-year-old soldier from Youngsville among those killed in Afghanistan
Posted June 12
Youngsville, N.C. — A soldier from North Carolina was among three men who were killed in Afghanistan on Saturday, officials said.
Corporal Dillon C. Baldridge, 22 of Youngsville, died in Peka Valley in the Nangarhar Province, according to the Department of Defense. Baldridge was shot, officials said.
Sgt. Eric M. Houck, 25, of Baltimore, Maryland and Sgt. William M. Bays, 29, of Barstow, California were also killed.
An Afghan official said the deaths and injury stem from an attack by an Afghan soldier, who also died, according to The Associated Press.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. Taliban pokesman Zabihullah Mujahid says in a statement that a Taliban loyalist had infiltrated the Afghan army "just to attack foreign forces."
In March, an Afghan soldier was killed after he opened fire on foreign forces at a base in Helmand province, wounding three U.S. soldiers.
Officials said the soldiers were assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Company D, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, KY.
Baldridge was a 2012 graduate of Franklinton High School, according to family members. He went to Afghanistan last October and was due to return in August.
"Words cannot express the loss that has been felt by the faculty and staff at Franklinton High School today. Those that knew Dillon well remember him as a distinguished alumni of the class of 2012, who was a kindhearted and possessed a truly giving personality," Franklinton High School Principal Russell Holloman said in a statement. "He was a member of the wrestling team and always had a heart for serving others. He made an early commitment to the military during his high school career and maintained that focus and selfless dedication after graduation. We are all deeply saddened by the loss of one of our own today. Our community has truly lost a hero."
From an early age, Baldridge's step-mother, Jessie Baldridge, said he was destined to serve.
"What kid didn't just watch cartoons or play video games? He watched the Military Channel," she said. "He was just born a soldier."
Jessie Baldridge said she doesn't want to draw attention to herself, except to honor her son, who she described as smart, funny and kind.
"When you spent some time with him, you wanted to do better tomorrow," she said. "He was that guy who always had something nice to say, always had something positive."