High school teacher remembers soldier who died in Afghanistan as - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

High school teacher remembers soldier who died in Afghanistan as a true leader

Capt. James E. Chaffin, III (Source: Department of Defense) Capt. James E. Chaffin, III (Source: Department of Defense)
WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Friends and loved ones of a Midlands soldier who died in Afghanistan say the past two days have been the toughest they've ever experienced.

Capt. James E. Chaffin, III, 27, died in Kandahar, Afghanistan on April 1, the U.S. Department of Defense announced Wednesday. 

Even when Chaffin was a Brookland-Cayce Bearcat in West Columbia, friends and teachers say they knew he was going on to bigger and better things.

Since graduating from West Point in 2009 his career in the Army was on a fast track.

But now his friends say with Chaffin's death, there's a void left behind.

"We were going around the classroom, talking about things they were worried about, we got to Ed, and he said the thing he worried about was his sister, who I taught, who was about to graduate Brookland-Cayce High School," said one of Chaffin's teachers Lynn Summer. "That just melted my heart."

Chaffin, who went by his middle name, Ed, cared about serving others, so much so he chose a career serving his country.

"I cannot think of a single person in the world who would have anything bad to say about Ed," said childhood friend John Warren. "He was alternatively one of the funniest people I knew, but I've been thinking about it a lot in the last couple of days, he's the most brilliant person I ever met in my life."

It's those memories of Ed that have made the past two days difficult for those who knew and loved him Ed.

"It's been a tough couple of days," Warren said.

At Brookland-Cayce High, Ed's freshman teacher shared photos of a kid ready to take on the world.

Even then, Summer said it showed Ed wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father, a Vietnam Veteran.

"I'll have to admit, I kind of lost it there in the classroom," Summer said. "We're just so very proud of his legacy."

Now, the hardest part for Warren, Summer and everyone else who knew Chaffin is they can't tell him goodbye.

"It's... It's going to be one of my greatest regrets that we lost contact after he went to West Point," Warren said.

This isn't the first loss for Brookland-Cayce High School this year, Sarah Jones, a West Columbia native who was killed in Savannah during a film shoot in February, was a member of Chaffin's graduating class.

Copyright 2014 WIS. All rights reserved.

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