- Associated Press - Monday, June 6, 2016

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Alaska State Troopers have found the body of a member of the Alaska National Guard who disappeared on a mountain hike in February.

KTVA-TV reports (https://bit.ly/1RVkBfZ ) that search teams found the body of Nephi Soper in Tanaina Lake on Sunday after a two-day search involving multiple agencies.

“We are thankful that, after three months of uncertainty, our soldier has been located,” a statement from Adjutant General for the Alaska National Guard, Brig. Gen. Laurie Hummel said. “We greatly appreciate the countless volunteers, Air Guardsmen and Army Guardsmen for providing their expertise in the search effort for Specialist Soper. Nephi Soper will always be an Alaska National Guardsman.”

Soper was last seen Feb. 18 wearing military-issue clothing by a taxi driver at the Flat Top Trailhead. The Alaska National Guard reported him missing the next day after he failed to report for training with his unit. He had left plans with National Guard personnel that detailed his route. He planned to hike north and eventually exit from Arctic Valley Road onto Fort Richardson to attend training.

Sgt. Marisa Lindsay said Soper’s remains were found about nine miles south of the National Guard armory. He was identified with his military identification tags as well as physical recognition and clothing.

After his initial disappearance there was a six-day search that was called off on Feb. 24. Soper’s family came to Alaska to conduct their own search at that time.

Kenneth Soper, Nephi Soper’s father, said he will fly to Alaska from Missouri and collect his son’s body.

“He loved those mountains and he loved Alaska so much I feel that it would be right to have him cremated and sprinkle his ashes up in the area,” Kenneth Soper said. “It feels like a big weight’s been lifted off my shoulder.”


Information from: KTVA-TV, https://www.ktva.com

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