The U.S. Department of Defense announced on Thursday that a Marine from Manchester died while serving in Operation Enduring Freedom.
Cpl. Nicholas S. Ott, a 23-year-old from the township, died on Aug. 10 in Afghanistan's Helmand province, according to a news release issued by the department.
Ott died while "conducting combat operations" in the province, the release states. He was part of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, of Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.
Alexander George, principal of Manchester Township High School, said that Ott was a 2006 graduate who always had a smile on his face.
"He was just a great kid," George said. "He was a kid who had a contagious smile."
George coached Ott during his freshman year on the school's football team, and all four years on the wrestling squad.
"Sports was definitely a big thing for him. I just remember him being there, so excited everyday," he said. "He was an incredibly coachable kid. He was a leader right from the start. He just wanted to do whatever he could to help the team."
According to information released by 1st Lt. Diann M. Olson, Marine Corps Base Hawaii's media officer, Ott joined the Marine Corps as an infantryman in September of 2007. He was promoted to his current assignment in 2010 and was deployed to Afghanistan in April of 2011.
Serving his country was an idea that came to Ott after graduation, George said. The principal said that he saw Ott a few years ago and the two spoke about the Marine's decision to enlist.
"He had given it a lot of thought," he said. "He was looking at that as an opportunity to start the next chapter of his life."
George said that he saw Ott grow as a person during his four years at the high school. It was not surprising that Ott, always the team player, chose a path that enabled him to serve others.
"He was all about doing whatever he could for the team. By his senior year he had matured and was a force on the wrestling mat. I remember him being a true team kid," George said.
George described Ott as someone who was always "looking at the big picture." This meant that Ott would make sure his teammates were hitting the gym regularly and keeping their grades up.
These traits, George said, make Ott someone other children can look up to.
"If you work hard, good things will happen," he said. "He was just a great kid. He's a great example of what kids can do when they work hard and set goals for themselves."
Ott earned multiple awards, according to Olson, including two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and three Sea Service Deployment Ribbons.
"The base is grieving along with the deployed units overseas," Olson said.
The Marine's photo will be released by the MCB Hawaii at a later time, according to Olson.
George said that Ott was "taken from us so soon." At work on Thursday, George said that a sense of "tremendous sadness" was sensed through the office.
"Everybody's just remembering what a fun-loving, always-smiling, happy kid he was at the high school, and what a big part of the school he was while he was there," he said.
"He had so much to offer and so much to give. But certainly, there's a tremendous sense of pride in regards to his defending his country and what it stands for. He had so much to offer and was such a good kid."