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Slain Loveland soldier was close to returning from Afghanistan

LOVELAND, Colo. — A northern Colorado solider killed in combat in Afghanistan was nearing the end of a nine-month deployment.

The Defense Department said Tuesday that 22-year-old Spc. Gabriel D. Conde of Loveland died Monday after he was hit by enemy small arms fire in the Tagab District of Afghanistan.

Conde, an airborne infantryman, was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

Army spokesman Lt. Col. Martyn Crighton told the Loveland Reporter-Herald that the division was expected to return to Alaska in the coming weeks.

Conde graduated from Berthoud High School and attended Colorado School of Mines for a year before leaving to join the Army.

His high school cross country coach, Kristi Leonard, said he felt a calling to enter the military.

His family said that from a very young age their son had one main mission: To make a difference by standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.