First Lieutenant Kile G. West, along with his crew, were on a mission in Abu Sayda to rescue the crew of a downed helicopter when their Bradley was hit by an IED. In seeking information on the fate of helicopter crew, unsurprisingly, I found news reports saying nothing more than "10 soldiers killed in Iraq on Memorial Day". DefenseLink.mil says 1LT Keith N. Heidtman and CWO Theodore U. Church died of wounds recieved when their Kiowa came under heavy enemy fire and crashed during combat operations.
From the article in the local paper (written by a local staff writer), when he died, Kile West was only doing what came naturally to him:
"I know that when it came down to it, Kile was the kind of guy that, it didn't matter what the reason was, he was fighting for the person next to him," said Marc Parks, a childhood friend.
West was destined to be a soldier. From the Houston Chronicle:
"Kile wanted to be a soldier his whole life. I was a soldier, and his grandfather was a soldier in World War II. He just wanted to do that. He would watch the military channel on TV all the time. He wanted to go to college to be an officer in the Army. He died doing what he wanted to do," the uncle said.
Kile West graduated from Hutto High School, which is just down the road from the ballpark where I spend a fair amount of time over the summer. He had played high school football. He graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University where he was a member of the ROTC. He had wanted to earn a Masters from Texas A&M.
Being a hunter, Kile and his friends dealt with a grackle problem, in his neighborhood just outside the city limits. In my opinion, he demonstrated his leadership - he identified a problem and set about fixing it himself, with a little help from his friends.
Kile was due to come home to Texas for his mid-tour leave in June. His unit, the 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was out of Fort Hood, which is about an hour away from where his mother lives. The Patriot Guard Riders have a confirmed mission. First Lieutenant Kile G. West will be laid to rest at Central Texas Veterans Cemetery in Killeen, Texas on either June 6 or June 7. I will be keeping an eye on the details to see if I will be able to attend. If I can, this will be my first funeral of a fallen soldier.
God Bless you, Kile West. Thank you for your service. May you rest in peace and may your family find the comfort they need to deal with their loss.
Update 6/5/07, 1:13am
According to the PGR site, the funeral will be Saturday, June 9 at 10:30am. It will be held at Lifeway Fellowship Church, 4001 E. Elms Road, Killeen, Texas.