YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — A Japan-based U.S. Marine was killed Friday in Afghanistan, according to the Department of Defense.

Sgt. Jason T. Smith, 28, was assigned to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Branch, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni. He died while conducting combat operations in Helmand Province, according to a DOD release.

A friend of the Colorado Springs, Colo., native told his hometown news station that Smith’s job was to track down and disable explosives.

“He chose to be explosive ordinance disposal because their mission out there was critical for the success of everyone else out there,” Joshua Burgreen, Smith’s high school classmate, told KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs on Monday. “And even though he knew it was the most dangerous job you could possibly choose in the Marine Corps, he still did it.”

Smith deployed to Afghanistan as an augmentee, Iwakuni spokesman Cpl. Joseph Marianelli said Tuesday. An augmentee is a specially trained servicemember who supplements a unit individually or in a small group.

Iwakuni officials confirmed Smith left behind a wife but would not elaborate on his next of kin. A closed service at Iwakuni was still being coordinated Tuesday, Marianelli said.

June marked Smith’s 10th year as a Marine. This was his first tour in Afghanistan, after having deployed twice to Iraq, military officials said.

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