Metro

Dunstable in mourning after local soldier killed during training exercise at Fort Bragg

Brian West said his wife put a sign up on the side of the road in Dunstable along with two American flags in memory of the young man from town.

Emily Sweeney/Globe staff

Brian West said his wife put a sign up on the side of the road in Dunstable along with two American flags in memory of the young man from town.

DUNSTABLE — A small town of 3,179 is mourning the loss of one of its own.

Staff Sergeant Alexander P. Dalida, 32, of Dunstable died Thursday during a training exercise at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. The US Army Special Operations Command said the cause of Dalida’s death is under investigation.

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Seven other soldiers were hurt in the exercise on a range at one of the Army’s largest bases, officials said. Four remain hospitalized, and three others were released. The Associated Press reported the training exercise involved demolitions.

On Friday afternoon, a Dunstable police officer was stationed in a cruiser outside of the Dalida family home on Pleasant Street, also known as Route 113. The officer told reporters that the Dalida family did not want to speak to the press at this time.

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Closer to the center of town, a sandwich board on the side of the road read, “Heartfelt sympathy to the Dalida family” in capital letters.

Brian West, the president of West Auto Repair, said his wife put the sign up along with two American flags in memory of the young man from town whose life was cut short while serving his country.

West said he knows the Dalida family and has worked on their cars. On Friday, he was at a loss for words.

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“What can you say? You feel bad,” he said, as he stood inside his auto repair shop and looked out toward the roadside sign. “There are no words. . . . It hits home.”

Dunstable Police Chief James Dow said he has witnessed an outpouring of support for the slain soldier’s family. “People are coming to the station and asking what they can do,” he said.

He said the family is active in the community; Dalida’s father serves as a road commissioner in town.

“The community is definitely in mourning,” he said. “Obviously, it’s a tragedy.”

According to a post on the US Army Special Operations Command’s Facebook page, Dalida enlisted in the Army in September 2006 and attended basic training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina and continued on to advanced individual training at Fort Eustis. At the time of his death, he was enrolled in the Special Forces Qualification Course at the US Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.

Officials at the warfare center offered condolences to the Dalida family.

“Our primary focus right now is to care for his loved ones. We will honor Staff Sgt. Dalida and help his family in their time of need,” Colonel Michael Kornburger, commander of the 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne) at the center, said in the Facebook post.

Major General Kurt Sonntag, commander of the center, echoed those sentiments.

“The special operations community is a close-knit family,” Sonntag said in the Facebook post. “We consider every student who enters our institution a part of our SWCS family. Staff Sgt. Dalida’s death is a reminder that a Soldier’s job is inherently dangerous. Our thoughts and prayers are with Staff Sgt. Dalida’s family and friends.”

According to the Facebook post, Dalida’s awards and decorations included the Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal with one oak-leaf cluster, Army Achievement Medal with oak-leaf cluster, Army Good Conduct medal (third award), the Combat Action Badge, Aviation Badge, Parachutist’s Badge, and Air Assault Badge.

Danny McDonald of Globe staff contributed to this report. Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.
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