A 20-year-old soldier from Somerset County died in combat Monday while serving with the Army in Afghanistan.

Spc. Andrew L. Hutchins of New Portland was a military policeman and a member of the 101st Airborne Division, based out of Fort Campbell, Ky., according to a news release from Gov. John Baldacci’s office.

Details on the circumstances of his death had not been released by the U.S. Department of Defense as of Tuesday night.

Community members expressed shock Tuesday when they learned of Hutchins’ death. They remembered him as a leader who excelled academically and athletically at Carrabec High School in North Anson.

Diane Starr, director of guidance at the school, described the 2008 graduate as “one of the most awesome students we had.”

Chris Poulin, who had Hutchins in the Jobs for Maine’s Graduates program at the high school, said, “I’m guessing some teachers work their whole career and never find a kid like that.”

Baldacci spoke with members of Hutchins family on Tuesday.

“His father told me that Spc. Hutchins was wounded earlier, but he wanted to return to Afghanistan to be with his buddies,” Baldacci said. “Spc. Hutchins is a hero and deserves our gratitude.”

Baldacci is expected to order flags flown at half-staff on the day of Hutchins’ funeral.

Hutchins’ mother lives in Waltham, and his father lives in Leeds. His wife plans to stay with her mother, who lives in Solon, until Hutchins’ funeral, according to the Governor’s Office.

Hutchins’ wife is expecting their first child, said Pete Rogers of the state Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management.

Hutchins is the second soldier from New Portland to die in the Afghanistan war. Joshua M. Bernard, 21, a home-schooled student from the rural town, was a specialist in the Marines when he died on Aug. 14, 2009, as his patrol was ambushed by Taliban fighters in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

Hutchins is also the second soldier from Carrabec High to die in the war. Evander E. Andrews, 36, of Solon, a master sergeant in the Air Force, was the first American casualty in Operation Enduring Freedom. He was killed on Oct. 10, 2001, in a forklift accident during construction of an airfield in Al Udeid, Qatar.

Hutchins is the second person with Maine ties to be killed this month in Afghanistan. Marine 1st Lt. James R. Zimmerman, 25, died Nov. 2. A memorial service is planned for Zimmerman on Thursday in Houlton.

Starr, the guidance director at Carrabec High, said Hutchins was an “excellent student” who joined the Army during his senior year.

Even though it wasn’t required, he took two foreign language classes as a senior, honors English and two Advanced Placement courses — statistics and psychology.

“He went over and above what our top academic students do, just because he loved to learn,” she said.

His classmates chose him as “most artistic” and “class brains” in his senior year. His yearbook quote was: “Pride is no sin. Always have pride.”

Poulin said Hutchins was “a leader in our school in driving different initiatives,” including a blood drive and a fundraiser to buy Christmas presents for elementary school students.

He recalled a senior class fundraiser when Hutchins and his classmates parked cars at the New Portland fair. They took shifts, so students could attend the fair and eat. Hutchins noticed that one student, who didn’t have any money, refused to take breaks to get food.

So “without making a big scene,” Poulin said, Hutchins bought extra food and gave it to Poulin to give to the student. “He didn’t want the kid to know it came from him,” he said. “I’ve been in education for 13 or 14 years, and you just don’t run across kids like that every day.”

Starr said Tuesday afternoon that teachers and the school’s staff were just learning of Hutchins’ death, “so the atmosphere is just shocked.” Counselors will be available today for students and teachers.

U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud of Maine said Tuesday that he was “deeply saddened” to hear of Hutchins’ death.

“Words cannot do justice to the honor with which Andrew served his country and the sadness and loss his family now feels,” he said.

U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe said, “Hutchins shouldered the heaviest of responsibilities, and the magnitude and height of my admiration and respect for him is limitless.”