By John Rutherford, Producer, NBC News, Washington
Nick Dewhirst was an all-American kid growing up on the banks of the Mississippi River in Onalaska, Wis. Eagle Scout. Trumpet player. National Honor Society member. West Point graduate. Army first lieutenant.
"This was a young man that I would wish my daughters would want to bring home for me to meet," Peter Woerpel, his high school principal, said in an interview.
Dewhirst, 25, was killed July 20 by small arms fire in the Qalandar District of Afghanistan, one of a growing number of American casualties in that increasingly bloody conflict.
"We're just very sad here," Woerpel said. "It was very hard for some of our teachers to even want to talk about it. I mean, it was pretty emotional. He was just that kind of a person, just very genuine."
The recent spike in Afghan violence - 16 U.S. combat deaths so far this month, compared to seven in Iraq - has sparked talk of moving troops out of Iraq and into Afghanistan.
"We do have some troops, probably in Anbar province and maybe some places in Baghdad, who could be redeployed," MSNBC military analyst Jack Jacobs said in an interview. "It's probably going to happen this calendar year, I should think."
While there aren't enough troops available in Iraq to solve all of the problems in Afghanistan, Col. Jacobs said the additional forces would still help a lot.
"Let's say we send 5,000 to 10,000 over there, maybe 12,000, including support troops," he said. "You're liable to see some immediate results. It's worked before."
In the end, however, he said there just aren't enough U.S. troops to go around.
"In terms of troop levels, we've really beaten these guys up," he said. "We've had to rely very heavily on the National Guard and the Reserves, who themselves have had multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan."
And that, unfortunately, is not about to change, at least not anytime soon.
Washington Producer John Rutherford is a decorated Vietnam veteran. He also posts stories on the military at www.fieldnotes.msnbc.com (click on "John Rutherford" under "categories") and at http://john-rutherford.newsvine.com. The tribute gallery can be found at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22802019/.