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9/11 survivor and Maine high school graduate dies in Kenya terrorist attack

Jason Spindler, who graduated from Hebron Academy in 1996, died in Tuesday's terror attack in Kenya.

HEBRON, Maine — The only American who died in Tuesday's terror attacks in Kenya, along with at least 21 others, graduated from Hebron Academy in Maine. 

Jason Spindler, originally from Texas, attended the private school, graduating in 1996. 

Spindler was killed in a blast and heavy gunfire at an upscale hotel and office complex in Kenya's capital on Tuesday, Jan. 15. Spindler had previously survived the attacks of 9/11 in New York City. According to his family, Spindler was working on Wall Street during the attacks and has just arrived at his office when the first tower fell. His roommate at the time told the Washington Post that Spindler ran towards the victims of the attack, pulling them from the rubble.   

Spindler was the founder of a business development firm, I-DEV International, based in Nairobi. 

Spindler's mother talked to NBC News, saying her son "was trying to make a positive change in third-world emerging markets."

Spindler began school at Hebron Academy in Maine in 1994 and graduated in 1996. He was captain of the swim team as a junior and senior. 

”You could tell he was prepared to do something pretty special with his life even when he was a junior in high school," said Bill Wallace, Spindler's former swim coach at Hebron. 

Wallace was also the associate director of admission at Hebron from 1994 to 1999, and knew Spindler before he ever attended the school, interviewing him the summer before he started school there.

”He just filled the room. He seemed to have all the confidence in the world," said Wallace. "He was serious about his swimming, but also very serious about being a good friend to others.”

Hebron Academy Headmaster Dan Marchetti said Spindler was an admissions ambassador for the school, and was on the Diversity Committee.

”It’s absolutely awful news. It’s an incredible life cut short," said Marchetti. ”Clearly he’s someone who saw a calling to a greater good. Those are the types of kids, people, adults, who can make a difference in the community and in the world. We’ll be sure to honor his life at Hebron and make sure he’s never forgotten here."

After surviving the Sept. 11 terror attacks in 2001 while Spindler was working in New York City, he decided to join the Peace Corps. 

Spindler was a graduate of NYU Law and the University of Texas at Austin, and he was the recipient of grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Clinton Foundation, his mother told NBC News.

At Hebron, Spindler was the captain of the swim team his junior and senior years, was active in Green Key, Outing Club, and was a member of the Diversity Committee. His brother, Jonathan, also graduated from Hebron in 2002.

The flag at Hebron is at half staff in honor of Jason.

The Associated Press is reporting Tuesday's attack began with cars exploding and several armed young men, wrapped in ammunition belts, sauntering onto the scene. 

It was declared over nearly 20 hours later with at least 21 people killed, 700 people evacuated and the Islamic extremist attackers “eliminated.” Overnight, scores of frightened people hid in washrooms, offices and elsewhere as gunfire popped and security forces hunted the gunmen. Here’s a rough timeline of what occurred in the deadly attack on a luxury hotel complex in Kenya’s capital.

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