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Soldier killed in Afghanistan remembered in Bennington

BENNINGTON — A Colorado Army National Guard solider who grew up in Bennington was killed by enemy insurgents during a military training exercise in Afghanistan Sept. 21.

Staff Sgt. Liam J. Nevins, 32, of Denver, Colo., attended Pierce Elementary School in Bennington and Great Brook School in Antrim.

Local residents remember him as a sweet boy with bright blue eyes.

He lived in Bennington with his mother and father, William and Victoria Nevins, and his two older sisters, Mauve and Raven, said family friend Tim Sysyn of Hancock.

The family moved away before he would have attended ConVal High School in Peterborough, Sysyn said.

Sysyn’s wife taught Nevins in school, and the families were good friends, especially Nevins and Sysyn’s daughter.

“I knew them quite well and the kids came here a lot and we went there a lot,” Sysyn said.

Sysyn described Nevins as a “very creative, idealistic kid.”

“He liked to read comics and write stories and stuff,” Sysyn said. “Loved to fish, ride his bike.”

Nevins would participate in the Bennington fishing derby every year, Sysyn said. “He loved those sorts of things. He liked to go swimming at Pierce Lake.”

Sysyn said he has not yet reached out to Williams Nevins, but has been told the family has asked for privacy at this time to grieve.Lesley McGregor, Bennington resident and librarian at the G.E.P. Dodge Library in Bennington, said her daughter had first heard the news from one of Nevin’s sisters, whom her daughter has remained close to.

“We kept track of him through his sister, what he was doing, what was going on,” McGregor said. “It was very devastating to hear about it because she was very close to her brother ... It was crushing, really horrible news.”

“Everybody’s very sad about it,” she said. “I remember him when he was a little boy going to first grade. He was a tiny little guy, very sweet, very cute child.”

Nevins was assigned to 5th Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group, Watkins, Colo.

He was one of three soldiers killed at Forward Operating Base Shank, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with small arms fire in Gardez, Paktia Province, Afghanistan, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Staff Sgt. Timothy R. McGill, 30, of Ramsey, N.J., assigned to 2nd Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group, Middletown, R.I., and Spc. Joshua J. Strickland, 23, of Woodstock, Ga., assigned to Group Support Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., were also killed.

Nevins had received the Purple Cross for a serious wound received in combat three weeks before his death.

mpierce@newstote.com



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