A U.S soldier was struck and killed by an armoured truck immediately after rescuing an Afghan girl who was about to be run over.
Sgt Dennis Weichel, a Rhode Island National Guardsman, was riding along as part of a convoy with his unit in Laghman Province in eastern Afghanistan when they spotted children on the road ahead.
The children were collecting empty shell casings to be recycled for money.
Weichel and the other soldiers quickly moved the children out of the way of the following trucks, which can weigh as much as 16 tons.
Weichel saw one girl dash back onto the road and managed to grab her to safety but was then struck by an armoured vehicle moments later.
The unnamed girl was unharmed but the heroic soldier died later that day from his injuries. His body is being flown back to the U.S on Saturday.
The father of three was due to get married to his girlfriend and had only arrived in Afghanistan a few weeks earlier.
On a Facebook page set up in his memory his young children have left a message that reads: ‘We are so proud of our daddy..we love and miss you. ..daddy you are our hero. Love you Nick, Hope and Madison.’
Army officials called Weichel’s actions the epitome of selfless service and sacrifice and U.S. and state flags in Rhode Island will be flown at half-mast until the soldier’s funeral on Sunday.
‘He would have done it for anybody,’ said Staff Sgt. Ronald Corbett, who was Weichel’s mentor and deployed with him to Iraq in 2005. ‘That was the way he was. He would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it.’