A U.S. soldier with ties to Maine has died while serving in Afghanistan.

Pfc. Clinton E. Springer II, 21, whose father lives in Sanford, died in Kabul on Friday. He was killed in a non-combat incident, according to a news release posted Monday on the Department of Defense’s website. The cause remains under investigation.

His father, Clinton Springer, said Monday night that he had not been told by the Army how his son died.

“I’m very proud of him. I don’t regret what he did (joining the Army). I just regret the outcome,” said Springer, who had just returned home from Dover Air Force Base, Del., where his son’s body was taken.

Once the soldier’s body has been released to his family, his funeral will be scheduled.

Springer joined the Army in March 2009. After completing training, he arrived at Fort Drum, N.Y., in July 2009.

He was an infantryman in the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, said Julie Cupernall, a spokeswoman for Fort Drum.

His brigade was deployed to Afghanistan in January. It was Springer’s first deployment overseas, Cupernall said.

She said the cause of a non-combat death could be anything from a motor vehicle accident to an underlying health issue.

Cupernall said Springer’s awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal.

Besides his father, he is survived by his mother, who lives on Cape Cod, and a 19-year-old brother, Eric. Clinton Springer said he and his wife, Kathleen Lumsden, are divorced.

Lumsden could not be reached Monday night, but she did post a comment on a Facebook page set up to honor her son’s memory.

“My dearest Clinton, you are loved by so many. You have made me so proud. You may be gone from us, but no one can ever take away my memories of you,” Lumsden wrote in a posting Monday.

According to his father, Springer graduated from Contoocook Valley Regional High School in Peterborough, N.H., in 2007, then lived with his father in Sanford for a couple of years. The elder Springer, a retired Navy veteran, has lived in Sanford for 13 years.

He said his son researched all of the branches of the military before settling on the Army. “He told me he didn’t want to live on a ship,” Springer said.

He said his son was a go-getter. “If there was an event, he didn’t want to just go to it, he wanted to be part of it,” he said.

Pfc. Springer’s outgoing nature allowed him to forge many relationships. “He has a few hundred friends. I mean that,” his father said.

Springer said he tried to spend quality time with both of his sons. They camped together, rode all-terrain vehicles and went horseback riding.

Pfc. Springer told his father that, after finishing his deployment, he wanted to attend the University of North Carolina to pursue a degree in law enforcement.

Though Springer lived in Maine for only a short time, news of his death drew responses from the governor and members of Maine’s congressional delegation.

“His loss is a terrible tragedy,” Gov. John Baldacci said in a written statement. “The military men and women serving in Afghanistan are called upon to complete dangerous missions far from home and family. Each and every one of them is a hero worthy of our respect and gratitude.”

Sen. Susan Collins said in a prepared statement: “I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Private First Class Clinton Springer. We are proud of his selfless service to our nation, and my deepest sympathies go out to his family, friends and loved ones.”

Sen. Olympia Snowe said: “It is with the heaviest of hearts that I convey my most profound condolences to the family and loved ones of Private Springer. My thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud said: “I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Private First Class Springer. Hearing of the passing of another soldier with ties to Maine reminds us all of how close the current wars are to our local communities.”

 

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: [email protected]