Oak Grove man serving in Alaska National Guard missing in wilderness

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OAK GROVE, Mo. -- Twenty-six-year-old Nephi Soper -- a member of the Alaska National Guard -- went hiking in a state park and was expected to arrive at Fort Richardson last Friday. However, he never showed up and is now missing.

He's an avid outdoorsman so his family believes he's still alive, but they think something is wrong. Darlene Soper said she found out her grandson was missing in the Alaskan wilderness on February 20th.

"My mouth just fell open in shock," Darlene said.

Nephi left the Prospect Heights Trailhead near Anchorage on the 18th, to hike nearly 20 miles through Chugach State Park.

"He`s taken this trail, this hike, many times," added Darlene.

Cecil Soper said his grandson was expected to arrive at Fort Richardson for a National Guard drill the next day.

"He didn`t show up," said Cecil.

His leadership team became concerned as it was out of character for him to be absent without letting anyone know.

"The National Guard had released a missing persons report for him," said Nephi's brother Noah.

Noah says his brother is an Army-trained combat medic and is known to spend time alone camping, hiking, and biking in Alaska.

"Maybe he got injured, and maybe built a snow fort, or some type of shelter," Noah wondered.

"That was just his life, hiking and taking pictures of animals and the scenery and stuff," said Darlene.

"Nephi has the ability to take care of himself," added Cecil.

Nephi told his team leader his route beforehand -- so they knew where to search.  That search was suspended Tuesday.

"The search was suspended because of the lack of resources, they already exhausted everything," Noah said. "Pretty much every government agency that you can think of has been involved in it."

Darlene says Nephi had a gun and a large back pack, and they know what he bought before he left, so it might give them some leads.

"He stopped at the convenience store there, when they interviewed the clerk, he said Nephi had bought a few things there, and they knew what articles he bought, and they told other hikers in the area that if you spot any trash to pick it up," said Darlene.

She says the search is suspended until new clues are found, but believes he can fend for himself and survive a long period of time on his own.

Nephi's family believes he`s probably still alive, and is asking everyone for prayers.

"Keep hoping there`s a miracle," added Darlene.

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The family has started a a GoFundMe to raise money so they can travel to Alaska to collect his belongings.

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