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Arizona sailor killed in Africa remembered as “outstanding young man”

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WASHINGTON _ State flags were ordered flown at half-staff to honor Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Kyler Estrada, a sailor from Maricopa who was killed this week in a non-combat training incident in Djibouti.

Estrada, a Navy hospital corpsman who described his job on his Facebook page as “fixing broken Marines,” was serving with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit when he died Feb. 14, according to the Department of Defense.

His unit, based out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., was in the Horn of Africa country in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the department’s statement said.

The Pentagon did not release any further details on Estrada’s death. But a separate report from the Naval Safety Center said an enlisted service member in Djibouti died from a gunshot wound during a live-fire training exercise on Feb. 14.

Calling Estrada a “true Arizona hero,” Gov. Jan Brewer ordered flags flown at half-staff Thursday and again on the day of his burial. Burial arrangements are still being made.

“This tragic death is a stark reminder of the risk which our men and women in uniform face on a daily basis as they carry out their mission to protect our nation,” Brewer said in a statement.

Originally from Maricopa, Estrada was a 2008 graduate of Queen Creek High School, where he was a sprinter and a triple- and long-jumper for the track team, his coach said.

“He was a really outstanding young man,” said Fred Clare, Estrada’s coach at Queen Creek. “We had good memories of him being on our track team.”

Estrada enlisted in October 2009, according to a story in the Navy Times.

Family members did not respond to requests for comment Friday, but posts on their Facebook pages showed their pride in the husband and son they lost.

“We are so proud of him, he has always been dedicated to service for his country and his God,” Clarin Saline Estrada, his mother, posted on her Facebook page.

She still lives in Queen Creek, where Estrada was raised and his father and four sisters also still reside, her page said.

“For those of you who never met him, you should know he was the best man you could have ever had in your life,” wrote his wife, Alyssa Estrada, on her Facebook page.

Estrada was serving at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, the first U.S. base established in Africa after the 9/11 attacks.