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Soldier from Lake Havasu City dies after firefight in eastern Afghanistan

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated from a previous version to include comments from Hammar's former teacher and the governor.

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WASHINGTON – A Lake Havasu City soldier died in Afghanistan Saturday from wounds he suffered in an attack while on patrol in the eastern province of Khost, the Pentagon announced Tuesday.

Army Staff Sgt. Carl Eric Hammar, 24, was wounded when enemy forces attacked his dismounted patrol with a rocket-propelled grenade and small-arms fire Saturday.

He was flown to Forward Operating Base Sharana for treatment but died of small-arms fire injuries later that day, according to the Army.

Hammar, who previously served two tours of duty in Iraq, had been in Afghanistan since December in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

He was a paratrooper assigned to 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, near Anchorage, Alaska.

According to his Facebook page, Hammar graduated from Lake Havasu High School in 2005. He went on to take classes at Mohave Community College’s Lake Havasu City campus from fall 2004 to fall 2006.

Hammar was majoring in general studies at Mohave, where he took courses in English, jewelry, lapidary and administration of justice, said Charlotte Keller, the director of marketing and public information for the school.

“He was very funny,” said Lamae Spellman-Douglas, Hammar’s silver and lapidary teacher at Mohave. “He was always telling jokes. And he listened to the weirdest music, like that ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic. He was always saying, ‘Here you gotta listen to this.’”

Spellman-Douglas said Hammar felt strongly about his Swedish heritage, and had come to her house to cook Swedish pancakes for her and her husband a few years ago.

“He was really excited about going in (to the Army),” she said. “He’ll be missed by his friends.”

Hammar joined the Army in December 2005 and graduated from basic training, advanced individual training and the basic airborne course at Fort Benning, Ga., before being stationed as an infantryman at Fort Bragg, N.C.

He had served in Iraq from January 2007 to March 2008 and again from August 2009 to July 2010. He was assigned in September to Elmendorf-Richardson, where he served as a squad leader. His 3,500-soldier brigade deployed to Afghanistan in December.

The Army said next of kin had been notified of his death. The base in Alaska plans to hold a memorial for Hammar, but the date had not been set, a spokesman said.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer ordered that the flags at all state buildings be lowered to half-staff Tuesday and again on the day of his burial.

“This is a day to offer our condolences, prayers and due respect for Staff Sgt. Hammar and the family he leaves behind,” Brewer said in a prepared statement Tuesday, asking for additional prayers for those still serving.

The Department of Defense reported that 1,919 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as of Tuesday in Operation Enduring Freedom.