NAMPA -- Private First Class Robert Near served 21 months with the 86th Signal Battalion based in Arizona before his death in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Friday.
The 21-year-old worked in the Army providing communication network support. Training for that job came from the Centennial Job Corps in Nampa where Near trained for 13 months.
“High energy, a cut up, very nice young man -- very intelligent young man,” said Michael Delaney.
Delaney was Near's computer tech instructor. He says Robert came to Nampa from his hometown of Granger, Wash., specifically for the training.
“He did the computer operator program here, so he was basically doing basic computer skills,” said Delaney.
Delaney says after 13 months together in class, they developed a strong friendship. In fact, it was at Delaney's recommendation that Robert first considered enlisting in the Army.
Delaney says the recent news of his death stunned him.
“Pretty shocking. Hate to see that happen to somebody, especially if you're the reason he's probably in there," said Delaney. "You know convincing him to go in there as a career opportunity to further his education and things like that."
The dangers of the job is something the two had talked about prior to Near enlisting.
“When Robert enlisted wars were going on, and as a retired soldier myself I talked to him bluntly about what he could expect over there, I mean we have wars going on in Afghanistan and Iraq and there's probably a 99.9 percent chance he's going to end up in one of those two places,” said Delaney.
Friends who knew Robert well say the mood on campus has been somber.
“I think yesterday was a blunt hit to most of them,” said Delaney.
“It was a mixture between shock and disbelief kind of,” said Near’s friend Jeramy Orr.
“I'm really proud of him. I'm sorry it turned out the way it did, but I know he was out there trying to do the best he could and defend this country the best he could,” said Delaney.
The circumstances surrounding Near's death are still under investigation.
We are told by a military spokesperson that Near was the only casualty in that incident Friday.
Funeral arrangements are being made in Granger, Wash.