Family of National Guardsman Nephi Soper prepares to say goodbye
For more than three months, the family of Alaska National Guardsman Spc. Nephi Soper wondered what happened to him. He disappeared while hiking from the Prospect Heights trailhead to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in mid-February. Saturday, searchers found his body, bringing closure to his family.
“Some days we do good. Some days we cry,” said Soper’s father, Kenneth Soper. “You can’t lie to yourself no more.”
Kenneth Soper said he thought maybe his son was still alive, living somewhere in the backcountry. When he got the call that Nephi Soper’s body had been found, he said he felt sadness and relief.
“Now you know you ain’t never going to see him again until you meet him on the other side with the Lord,” he said.
Kenneth Soper said his son’s body was found on the last piece of ice floating in Tanaina Lake. It’s the place where, as a survivalist, Nephi Soper would likely have gone for help.
“He probably sat in the middle of the lake and sat down where they would visibly see him and waited for rescue,” Kenneth Soper said.
Rescue never came, and Kenneth Soper said his son likely succumbed to the elements. Many search groups were out looking for Nephi Soper, their efforts hampered by high winds and storms.
Kenneth Soper said his son’s body will be cremated, the ashes spread on Wolverine Peak.
“That’s his favorite spot,” he explained. “All the pictures he has is of Wolverine Peak. The area, he loved that area.”
The family said after saying goodbye, they hope to move forward together, but said they’ll always miss Nephi Soper.
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