PORTLAND, Maine -- A 39-year-old Virginia National Guard sergeant who spent much of his childhood in Maine was killed by an explosive two weeks after being sent to Afghanistan, his father said.
Craig Cherry, whose father lives in Windham, was killed Saturday, six months after he was scheduled to retire from the Virginia National Guard. He leaves a wife, two teenage children, and an 8-month-old son.
"I never thought this would happen," said his father, Roy, who served in Vietnam. "And it hurts. It hurts bad."
Craig Cherry, a second guardsman from the National Guard unit based in Winchester, Va., and their interpreter were killed when a bomb hit their Humvee. The identities of the other men were not immediately available.
Cherry was deployed about a month ago with his battalion of about 600 soldiers. It was not clear who carried out the bombing, which occurred about 140 miles southwest of the capital, Kabul. But the site lies in territory near Pakistan where suspected Taliban-led rebels regularly clash with US and Afghan troops.
The bomb was an improvised explosive device, according to Joy Leach, spokeswoman for the governor's office.
The governor's office had not received any information on Cherry's memorial service, though Cherry's funeral was expected to be held at Arlington National Cemetery, Leach said.
Cherry joined the Army after graduating from high school in Virginia.
Roy Cherry said his son told him before leaving that "the kids that I'm taking over there don't know what they're doing."
Cherry said his son was eager to lead the younger men in his unit. "Unfortunately, he was the first one killed," Cherry said. "My son, he's one of the best. There's no way around it."
There were no immediate plans for a memorial service in Maine.