Kelly David Youngblood
Private First Class, United States Army
RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
No. 203-07 IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 21, 2007
Media Contact: (703) 697-5131/697-5132
DoD Id's Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Private Kelly D. Youngblood, 19, of Mesa, Arizona, died February 18, 2007, in Ramadi, Iraq, of wounds suffered during combat operations.He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Georgia.
For further information on this soldier, contact
the Fort Stewart public affairs office at (912) 767-2479.
A 19-year-old Mesa soldier told his mother before he went to Iraq, “I’ll do what I gotta do and I’ll be home.” U.S. Army Private Kelly David Youngblood arrived in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, 76 miles west of Baghdad, on February 2, 2007. Sixteen days later, he was killed by a sniper as he exited the tank he’d been driving.
He’d served in the military for one year, one month and one day.
Army officers hand-delivered Youngblood’s last letter to his sister, in which he called Ar Ramadi “terrorizing” and described the fear and horror he experienced.
“There are no phones where I’m at so I can’t call, and no Internet, so I can’t write,” Youngblood typed to his 16-year-old sister, Melaney, several days before his death. “I’m afraid to leave the building to (go to) the tank because there are snipers everywhere.”
From the day he arrived, Youngblood was surrounded by violence.
On his first day at the combat outpost, he stepped outside to videotape an exchange of gunfire in the city. But he became more than a witness. A rocket blew the video camera from his hand, and killed his friend “Zimmerman” in the process.
He wrote that two days later, a rocket-propelled grenade hit five feet from his tank. “But I had already loosened up by then. I don’t even get scared when I hear gunfire,” he wrote.
Youngblood moved to Mesa 11 years ago from La Porte, Indiana, with his mother, Kristen Chacon, and sister, recalled his stepfather, TJ Chacon.
He attended Tempe’s McClintock High School and later worked as a sandwich maker in southwest Mesa before joining the army.
“He was a pretty simple kid,” his stepfather said. “He didn’t ask for much. He always liked to joke around.”
Before enlisting in the military, Youngblood enjoyed skateboarding, riding his bike and playing video games with friends.
He’d thought of going to film school, Kristen said. And he’d thought of a career in the military. But everyone else said he should be a comedian. His fourth grade teacher once told her she’d be surprised if he didn’t write for David Letterman when he grew up.
Kristen Chacon sat in her backyard in the Dobson Ranch area of Mesa Tuesday afternoon, flanked by friends and family, food piling up in the kitchen. A small, furry dog scampered to and fro, pausing beneath the lemon tree, then returning to sniff visitors’ feet.
“I keep telling people not to bring food — we’re not hungry,” she said warmly, taking a draw on a cigarette. She turned to several of her co-workers from Desert Vista Behavioral Health, who dropped by to show their support. “I wish you guys could have gotten to meet him — he’s so awesome,” she said.
The weather had been beautiful Sunday before officers knocked on her front door to deliver the bad news. She’d been drinking a cup of coffee.
“It’s like Armageddon there,” she said of Iraq. She said she wanted people to be reminded of the soldiers who are out fighting and dying.
“We could have used them here,” she added.
Youngblood had “always wanted to be in the army, ever since he was a little kid,” said his step-grandmother, Deanna Chacon. She said he “always played army and wore camouflage pants.”
“I just can’t believe Bush would send someone out of basic training straight to Iraq,” she continued. “They didn’t have a chance to begin with,” she said of new, young soldiers.
His mother said Youngblood was stationed in Savannah, Georgia, and Kuwait before being sent to Iraq.
“This young brave man who gave his life for his country deserves to have recognition for his bravery in serving our country,” his step-aunt, Natalie Anguiano, wrote to the Tribune.
Youngblood’s mother said the funeral will be
March 3, 2007, but she has not yet chosen a funeral home. His funeral will
be public, and she plans to have him buried in Arlington National Cemetery,
which is reserved for soldiers killed in combat.
As recently as December, Kelly Youngblood returned to his native Westville to attend church services before leaving for service in Iraq.
Sixteen days after arriving in Iraq, the Army Private was killed by a sniper's bullet.
And even though his family moved away 10 years ago, Westville residents still grieve his loss.
"He went to Sunday School here when he was a child. Yeah, it's affected us," said an emotional Melinda Mason, secretary at Westville United Methodist Church.
"Until it's somebody you really know, it doesn't hit home. He was a nice young man," Mason said.
Youngblood, a member of a Fort Steward, Georgia, Army battalion, lived in Westville until age 9, when his family moved to Mesa, Arizona.
He came back to attend eighth grade at Westville School.
"He was a very nice young man to deal with and got along very well with the other students," said Dan McKibben, middle school guidance counselor and dean of students.
"It's unfortunate these kind of things have to happen," McKibben said.
He returned to Arizona his freshman year, graduating from McClintock High School.
Youngblood, 19, soon enlisted in the Army, a dream of his since third grade when he liked to pretend play that he was in the Army.
He even put eye black underneath his eyes, said his grandmother, Jean Herrold.
Herrold said she tried persuade Youngblood to not enlist but he wanted to follow his dream. And he had no fear until his third day in Iraq when soldiers from his compound were killed in mortar rockets.
"He said it was like Armageddon. Shots going off all the time. Bombs. Then he was frightened," he wrote in an e-mail to his sister Melaney, according to Herrold.
He also told his sister not to tell his mother, Kristen Chacon, so she wouldn't worry, Herrold said.
Youngblood talked to his mother once on the telephone from Iraq and said he'd call again in a few days.
Eleven days later, Chacon said she sensed something was wrong.
Youngblood had arrived at his compound after his shift and was getting out of a tank when he was hit by sniper fire.
"That kid was so much fun. He made jokes out of everything. He's going to be sorely missed," Herrold said.
Youngblood's grandfather, Charley Herrold, a longtime helper weekly fish fry cook at Westville United Methodist Church, said he will miss his grandson.
Funeral services are set for March 3 in Mesa, Arizona.
A memorial service is scheduled March 10 at Westville United Methodist Church.
Youngblood's ashes will be interred at Arlington
National Cemetery, Herrold said.
Fulfilling a Dream of Service
Army Private Killed in Iraq Had Long Wanted to Be in the Military
By Mark Berman
Courtesy of The Washington Post
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Thursday was supposed to be Kelly Youngblood's 22nd birthday. Instead, he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Army Private First Class Youngblood, of Mesa, Arizona, was killed by sniper fire February 18, 2007, near Ramadi, a central Iraqi city about 60 miles west of Baghdad. He was shot after stepping out of his vehicle. He died a little more than two weeks into his deployment and during one of the deadliest periods in the Iraq War, which began in 2003.
Dozens of mourners accompanied a small box containing Youngblood's remains to Arlington. The service was brief but emotional, punctuated with a folded flag given to his mother, Kristen Chacon, as loved ones snapped digital photos and filmed the moment.
His family and friends wiped their eyes and held tissues to their faces while completing Youngblood's journey from Arizona to Iraq and, finally, to Arlington. He became the 461st casualty of the Iraq war buried in the cemetery.
Among others offering condolences to the family were Secretary of the Army Pete Geren, a regular presence at these burials, and Deborah Mullen, wife of Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Kelly David Youngblood was born July 2, 1987, in northern Indiana near South Bend and moved to Arizona at 9. After attending high school in Tempe, he worked as a sandwich maker in a restaurant and entered the Army in January 2006 to fulfill what many family members said was his life's dream of military service.
He did not tell his parents of his plan. "I'll do what I gotta do, and I'll be home," he reportedly told his mother. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, based at Fort Stewart, Georgia.
His grandmother, Jean Herrold, told a South Bend newspaper that she tried to persuade Youngblood not to enlist but that he would not listen. She added that her grandson began to show his fear a few days after his arrival in Iraq, when soldiers from his compound were killed by mortar rockets.
"There are no phones where I'm at so I can't call, and no Internet, so I can't write," Youngblood reportedly typed to his younger sister, Melaney, days before his death. "I'm afraid to leave the building to [go to] the tank because there are snipers everywhere."
At the same time, he kept up a prankish streak that had been his habit from his youngest years. His mother told the Arizona Republic: "Kelly would hide somewhere where his fellow soldiers could not see him and then jump out and blow a horn to scare them."
Family and friends have posted hundreds of comments on his MySpace page in the months and years since his death. On Thursday, the day he was buried, multiple posts on his page appeared wishing him a happy birthday.
YOUNGBLOOD, KELLY D
Posted: 22 February 2007 Updated: 23 February 2007 Updated: 5 July 20098 Updated: 9 July 2009 Updated: 23 July 2009
Photo By Holly, July 2009