Justin McNeley, a noncommissioned U.S. Navy officer and father of two, was planning to return from Afghanistan next month. But McNeley, who was born and raised in the Denver area, was attacked and slain in Afghanistan’s dangerous Logar Province, McNeley’s uncle, state Representative Jim Kerr, confirms to The Denver Post. “Someone with his entire life ahead of them is gone in a heartbeat,” says Kerr, a Littleton Republican. McNeley and sailor Jarod Newlove were seen leaving a Kabul military base in an armored SUV last week and then disappeared in an area considered a Taliban stronghold. McNeley was killed in an apparent shootout, and Newlove, of Renton, Washington, was believed captured by the Taliban, according to ABC News. The Taliban has claimed Newlove is being held in a “safe place;” he is listed by the U.S. military as “whereabouts unknown.” McNeley will be laid to rest in Colorado (via 9News).

Meanwhile, troops who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq will cycle from Cheyenne, Wyoming, to Fort Carson in Colorado Springs as part of Ride 2 Recovery’s Rocky Mountain Challenge this weekend and into next week. The idea, says Army Specialist Juan Carlos Hernandez, who was injured in Afghanistan, is to heal the wounds of war, whether physical, mental, emotional, or all three. Read more about how you can get involved to support the recovering soldiers at 5280’s Cheap Thrills blog. Photo of Justin McNeley via rt66riders.org.