Army Sgt. Nicholas Dickhut found time Sunday to reach out to wish his younger brother a happy birthday from Afghanistan.
The call to his brother, David, who turned 9, was cut short when Dickhut was sent on what turned out to be the Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier’s final mission, his stepfather Randy Carson said.
Dickhut, a 23-year-old native of Stewartville, Minn., was killed in a firefight in southern Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, his parents told Minnesota news outlets. He had deployed from the base south of Tacoma in December with the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.
Dickhut was a forward observer with the Stryker brigade, a job that requires a soldier to be the eyes of distant artillery guns and to call for indirect fire and air support onto enemy positions.
He was assigned to another brigade from the 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, N.C. at the time of his death, his mother, Jacqueline Carson, told Minnesota Public Radio.
It was his second combat tour.
“I don’t even want to think about the fact that he’s never coming home,” she said. “All the plans that he had made and all the things we talked about, it’s just never going to happen. I really thought he was going to make it. I really did.”
Dickhut is the third service member with local ties to die in Afghanistan in April. Spc. Philip Schiller, 21, another 3rd Brigade soldier, and Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Ramon Kaipat, 22, a graduate of Mount Tahoma High School, both died on April 11.