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Soldier from Niceville killed in Afghanistan
NICEVILLE -- The first American killed this year in Afghanistan is a soldier who grew up in Okaloosa County.
Sergeant First Class William "Kelly" Lacey was killed Saturday, when insurgents attacked his unit with rocket propelled grenades.
More from Niceville where Lacey went to high school.
Laura Hussey "It's been twenty years since Kelly Lacey walked these halls at Niceville High School. He graduated in '94. At age 27, he decided he wanted to join the military."
Out of uniform, you can see a hint of the Kelly Lacey friends remember, a young man who grew his hair long and loved to play guitar.
Steve Early's coworker went to school with him.
Steve Early/Niceville "He said he was kind of a rebel, a longhaired kid and then I guess when he decided to settle down, he wanted to please his dad and kind of follow in his dad's footsteps"
Sergeant Lacey's father and stepmother weren't ready to come on camera, but they shared pictures of the son they are so proud of.
In Afghanistan, he was serving as a vehicle mechanic with the First Infantry Division out of Fort Knox.
It was his 5th combat deployment, three in Iraq, two in Afghanistan.
He was just ten days away from coming home.
Chantelle Bartlett "My heart just goes out to the family, I mean, it really does. It breaks my heart"
At Benny's Bar-B-Q, people in Lacey's close-knit hometown say his sacrifice was important.
Steve Early "I am glad that we have people like that, that dos what they do for our country, 'cause we can lay down and go to sleep at night, and not have to worry about these people coming over here"
After death, Sergeant Lacey was awarded the Purple Heart.
He was 38, married, with three step-daughters and a four year old daughter.
Chantelle "Now, that little girl doesn't have a dad. That's tough for her. I know she can say my dad as a hero, but still, she grows up without a father"
Laura Hussey "Sergeant Lacey's parents now live in Laurel Hill. He'll be buried there at Magnolia Cemetery."