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ST. LOUIS • The U.S. Defense Department says an Army sergeant from Granite City has died in a noncombat-related incident in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon announced Sunday that Staff Sgt. Christopher A. Wilbur, 36, died Friday in Kandahar. The cause of death wasn’t revealed.

Wilbur was married with two young children. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division in Fort Carson, Colo.

Wilbur’s father, Richard Wilbur, 69, of Granite City, said his son was athletic and spent time rock climbing and snowboarding in Colorado.

“He was very loving to his family and his kids,” he said. “He tried his best to provide for his family. He loved the military.”

Officials said Wilbur was involved in operations connected with tamping down terrorist activity in Afghanistan dubbed Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and training security forces there.   

"It is always hard to lose a part of our military family," Fort Carson officials said in a press release. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Staff Sgt. Christopher Wilbur's family and friends during this very difficult time."

Richard Wilbur said his son was born and reared in Granite City, where he graduated from Granite City High School. He said his son had spent 11 years in the military. Previously, he was in the drywall business with a friend, his father said.

According to the military, Christopher Wilbur previously served two tours in Iraq. He died during his second tour in Afghanistan. 

Wilbur’s stepmother, Phyllis Wilbur, 66, of Granite City, left St. Louis on Sunday with a military escort headed for Delaware, to meet the plane carrying Wilbur’s body when it arrives Monday or Tuesday. His father was unable to make the trip because of recent surgery. He plans to be at the airport in St. Louis.

Richard Wilbur said he received his last text from his son on Tuesday, before he went into surgery.

“He just texted me good luck and I’ll be thinking about you,” he said.

Wilbur’s mother-in-law, Susan Yarrow of Hattiesburg, Miss., said her son-in-law would be missed. “He was the kind of guy who always had a smile on his face,” she said in a phone interview. “He couldn’t sit very long and was devoted to (his wife) 100 percent.”

Arrangements are pending at Irwin Funeral Chapel in Granite City. 

Jesse Bogan of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

Denise Hollinshed is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch