1st Lt. Derek S. Hines was killed in Afghanistan and honored in a memorial service Friday at Caserma Ederle in Vicenza, Itay.

1st Lt. Derek S. Hines was killed in Afghanistan and honored in a memorial service Friday at Caserma Ederle in Vicenza, Itay. (U.S. Army)

At a memorial Friday, 1st Lt. Derek S. Hines was remembered as a natural athlete, leader and mentor to his men.

“The best of the best,” 2nd Lt. Jed M. Richard said in the eulogy for his friend and classmate at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Hines, 25, of Newburyport, Conn., died during a Sept. 1 firefight in Baylough, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 319th Airborne Field Artillery, based in Vicenza, Italy.

In Afghanistan, he was fire support officer for Company B, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, according to information provided by Army Southern European Task Force public affairs officials along with a copy of Richard’s prepared remarks.

During the service at the Caserma Ederle chapel, Richard recalled Hines as a man who lived and soldiered to the maximum

“I remember him at the hockey rink at 18 years old, looking like he was 15, yet with a glow, spark, just the sense of urgency and determination to be the best and help our guys be the best,” he said.

At St. John’s Preparatory School, Hines was a two-sport star in hockey and lacrosse. At West Point, playing Division 1 hockey, his 2002/2003 team elected him one of the team captains.

After West Point, Hines went to Fort Sill, Okla., for the field artillery basic course. In Afghanistan, he won the admiration of noncommissioned officers through his energy and willingness to listen to them and then incorporate their knowledge into his leadership, Richard said.

And Hines brought the same energy to helping locals that he brought to soldiering, Richard said, organizing donations from the United States and managing countless school, hospital and government building efforts “beyond anybody’s expectations.”

Richard noted that Hines already had earned the Purple Heart before his death. “The great thing about Derek is that he didn’t care about the accolades piling up,” Richard said. “All Derek cared about was the men who fought with him every mission, every day of the week.”

In addition to his Purple Heart, Hines’ awards include the Bronze Star with the valor device.

He is survived by his parents, Steven and Susan Hines, brothers Mike and Trevor and sister Ashley.

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