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NC National Guard soldier killed in Afghanistan

2nd Battalion, 12th Field Artillery Regiment, Alpha Battery, 2nd Platoon fires artillery in Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom Sentinel, July 23 2018. (Sgt. Elliot Hughes/U.S. Army)

A North Carolina National Guard soldier serving in Afghanistan was killed Thursday after his unit was attacked with an improvised explosive device.

Spc. James A. Slape, 23, of Morehead City was killed in Helmand province, Afghanistan, the Department of Defense announced Friday.

The NCNG said Slape was posthumously promoted to sergeant. And the attack that killed him is under investigation.

Slape was assigned to the 430th Explosive Ordnance Company, which is part of the 60th Troop Command. His unit is based in Washington.

North Carolina leaders said the Tar Heel state was in mourning following the attack.

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“We are deeply saddened by the news of Sgt. James Slape losing his life while serving our country,’ said Maj. Gen. Greg Lusk, Adjutant General of the North Carolina National Guard. “We honor his courage, his selfless service and we extend our deepest sympathy to his family, friends and fellow soldiers as we hold them firmly in our hearts and prayers during this difficult time.”

The 430th EOD Company deployed to Afghanistan in April in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and the Resolute Support mission. They are scheduled to return to North Carolina in the spring.

On Thursday, before Slape was officially identified, the top American general in Afghanistan also commented on the loss.

“We mourn and honor the sacrifice of our service member,” said Gen. Scott Miller, the commander of Resolute Support and U.S. Forces – Afghanistan. “We remain committed.”

On Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper spoke of how NCNG soldiers routinely make sacrifices to serve their communities and their nation.

“National Guard members step up and answer the call to service wherever they are needed, whether at home to help during a natural disaster or overseas to protect our national security. They leave their homes, their families and their jobs and put their lives on the line for us,” Cooper said. “On behalf of the people of North Carolina, I honor the service and sacrifice of Sgt. James Slape and offer our deepest sympathy to his loved ones and his fellow soldiers.”

Slape joined the NCNG in 2013 and became an explosive ordnance specialist in 2015, officials said.

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He is the 26th NCNG soldier to be killed in action since Sept. 11, 2001.

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© 2018 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.