Army Specialist David Joseph Drakulich of Reno, member of a well-known Nevada family, was killed Wednesday near Chagali, Afghanistan, when his vehicle was hit by a mine.
Gov. Jim Gibbons said flags at the Nevada Capitol will be flown at half-staff Friday in honor of Drakulich, 22, a forward observer and expert rifleman who was serving his third tour in Afghanistan.
He was in his 12th month of a 15-month tour when killed.
"We have lost one of Nevada's finest and will remember him for his honorable service to our country and for the many sacrifices he made in the name of democracy so that we may live in a safer world," Gibbons said.
Drakulich was assigned to the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.
"It's heartbreaking," Drakulich's grandfather, Duke Drakulich, said Thursday.
"I really never wanted him to join, I don't know why. But that's what he wanted. He was a very nice boy. I'm sure he's up in heaven. That's it."
Drakulich said his grandson, son of Joseph and Tina Drakulich, was born and raised in Reno, graduated from Hug High School in 2003, and attended Truckee Meadows Community College before joining the Army.
The Drakulich family has ties throughout the state. Stan Drakulich, Duke's brother, served in the state Senate in the early 1970s.