Soldier from LaGrange killed in Afghanistan

Scooter Weathers saw on the news that a bombing had killed three U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, and he hoped he didn’t know any of them.

Then he got a call from a friend telling him horrific news. He did know one of the dead soldiers.

U.S. Sgt. Stefan Smith, 24, of LaGrange was on patrol with American and Afghan forces near Kabul when a man riding a donkey detonated a bomb near Smith’s patrol unit. The bomb killed Smith, two other U.S. soldiers, four Afghan soldiers and an interpreter, according to the New York Times.

“It felt like someone punched me in the stomach,” said Weathers, who was Smith’s wrestling coach during high school.

Smith’s wife, Kristi, found out her husband had passed away when two soldiers in uniform came to her home.

“It devastated me to know that my husband and my children’s father wasn’t coming home,” Kristi Smith said.

She said it has been tough, but she is doing OK.

“I’m hanging in there well,” she said. “I have a bunch of support behind me.”

The couple met during the 11th grade at LaGrange High School, where Stefan Smith was a star wrestler. Weathers said Smith was one of the best wrestlers the school has ever had.

“He was one of my best captains,” Weathers said. “He was part of a special group of guys.”

Smith went 50-1 in his senior year and placed third in the state.

After graduating from high school in 2008, Smith was a police officer in Glensville for a year and a half before he decided to go into the Army.

He was deployed to Afghanistan in February 2013, on his first tour, and was set to come home in November.

“He joined the Army because he didn’t want to miss the experience, but he wanted to get out of the Army when he got home and go back to being a cop,” his wife said. “That’s what he loved doing.”

Smith will be buried in his family’s land in Ludowici, Ga., where he lived with his wife and their three children: Dewey, 3, Denver, 2, and Gracie, 1.

“The children are too young, and they don’t know what happened to daddy,” Kristi Smith said. “He was an amazing father. His life revolved around his kids.”

Smith’s family received his body Thursday in Dover, Del.

As of Thursday night, funeral details were not known.