Jeffrey J. Kaylor
First Lieutenant, United States Army
April 15, 2003
In their nine months of marriage, Jeffrey and Jenna Cosbey Kaylor never got a honeymoon.
The couple, both Army lieutenants, wed July 5, 2002, in Liverpool. Military training and assignment to the Middle East kept the couple apart except for two days at the Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel after the wedding and three brief meetings at her base in Kuwait, said Nanette Cosbey, Jenna's mother.
Now Jenna Kaylor, of Lysander, has gone from newlywed to widow.
Her husband, Jeffrey, was killed in a grenade attack outside Baghdad April 7, 2003. The couple's story was featured March 18, 2003 in The Post-Standard's ''Voices from the Front'' series, 10 days after Jenna Kaylor arrived in Kuwait.
Jeffrey Kaylor, 24, was from Clifton, Virginia. He met Jennifer ''Jenna'' Cosbey while they both attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute. They graduated in 2001.
Both were sent to Kuwait as war preparations were made. Jenna Kaylor, 23, serves with the 549th Military Police Company while Jeffrey Kaylor, 24, was with the 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 39th Field Artillery. He was sent to Kuwait in August from Fort Stewart in Georgia while Jenna Kaylor was still training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. They were assigned to different bases inside Kuwait.
Michael Kaylor said he learned of his son's death from Jenna. She called from Kuwait about an hour before an Army notification team arrived at their home, he said.
Jenna Kaylor, 23, returned to the United States Wednesday as the Army shipped her husband's body to the military mortuary center at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where it arrived Friday. She is staying in the Washington area while funeral arrangements are being made, her mother said.
The family is planning to bury Jeffrey Kaylor in Arlington National Cemetery, said Michael Kaylor, who also served in the Army.
Jenna Kaylor is a 1997 graduate of C.W. Baker High School in Baldwinsville. The couple started their military careers at Virginia Tech as members of the Corps of Cadets, a military school within the university. Both majored in information management.
Michael Kaylor said his son's passions were sports and sports cars. Jeffrey Kaylor played football at Centreville High School in Clifton before his graduation in 1997.
''He was an average football player,'' his father said, ''but a good athlete.''
Jenna is holding up well, Nanette Cosbey said. ''She knows what she has to do.''
Jenna's family plans to have a memorial service at the church where the couple wed, Nanette Cosbey said.
''He was a wonderful man, a wonderful husband and a wonderful son-in-law,'' she said.
Jeffrey Kaylor also is survived by his mother, Roxanne, and sisters Patricia and Cindy.
The family plans to set up a scholarship at
Centreville High School in Jeffrey Kaylor's name, his father said. Contributions
can be mailed to 6001 Union Mill Road, Clifton, Virginia 20124.
Clifton's Jeff Kaylor Killed in Iraq War
Grenade Hit Humvee in Which He Was Traveling
April 9, 2003
In letters to his parents in Little Rocky Run, Army First Lieutenant Jeff Kaylor assured them he'd be "home soon" from Iraq. But Mike and Roxanne Kaylor didn't know exactly what "soon" meant.
Tragically, they do now — but it's not how they'd envisioned it. Jeff, 24, whose field artillery platoon supports the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, mechanized, was killed Monday when an enemy grenade was tossed at the humvee in which he was riding.
He's the first person from western Fairfax County to die in the War in Iraq, and he also leaves behind two sisters and his wife of nine months, Jenna — also serving in the Army, in Kuwait.
"It's awful — I have so much anger," said Roxanne Kaylor. "I really blame the lean forces and the rapid race to Baghdad. This was straggler stuff — the paramilitary with weapons in villages along the way that hadn't been cleaned up.
"He was on a reconnaissance with his driver and they got grenaded. The driver lost his arm; it wasn't Jeff's lucky day. But they were by themselves — there was no one else to cover them. I hope whoever set up these plans thinks about it every day of their lives — it killed my son."
Jeff attended Union Mill Elementary and Rocky Run Middle School, graduating in 1997 from Centreville High, where he played linebacker on the varsity football team. He graduated from Virginia Tech in 2001 with a bachelor's in information systems. While there, he was in the Corps of Cadets (like ROTC) and, upon graduation, he was commissioned an Army Second Lieutenant.
He attended jump and leadership schools at Fort Benning, Georgia, and received basic training, last winter, at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Next came orders to the 1st/39th Artillery Battalion, C Company, at Fort Stewart, Georgia.
Jenna — who was also in Virginia Tech's Corps of Cadets — became a military police officer and was stationed with Kaylor at Fort Stewart. They married July 5 but, a month later, he left for Kuwait.
"When he reported [to Fort Stewart] in May, she was doing her MP training in Missouri," explained Kaylor. "When he learned he was to be deployed to Kuwait by August, they moved up their wedding to July. He left August 8, 2002, for Kuwait, and she left [in early March], but they weren't stationed together."
Still, it caught his mother a bit off guard when he told her he was deploying. "I always thought [the U.S.] would not get involved [in a war] — that we'd let diplomacy take care of it," she said. "In August, I had no idea that it would escalate to this point. He was only supposed to be there on a six-month rotation, until Feb. 1. [But] after Christmas, he e-mailed me that he wouldn't be home then."
Kaylor couldn't bear to watch news of the war on TV, but she kept up via the Internet and through Jenna's letters, telling her what was happening and if Jeff needed anything. And she busied herself "living day by day," taking care of her family and teaching graphic imagery and design at Fairfax High's Academy.
Jenna was stationed in Kuwait, but Jeff's platoon went into Iraq, where it operates multiple rocket launchers to support the 3rd Infantry Division. Just recently, Kaylor heard from an officer at Fort Stewart who'd talked to Jeff's battalion commander in Iraq.
At that time, he reported all was well. Said Kaylor: "He said the boys were fine — they were all hungry and dirty, but morale was high and everyone was doing a good job."
Then came Monday and an 8 p.m. phone call from
Jenna telling the Kaylors their son was dead. "I just didn't want to believe
it," said Jeff's mother. Two hours later, a chaplain from Fort Myer was
at their door. Jenna was due to arrive here from Kuwait, Wednesday afternoon.
Jeff will return home via Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
He said the family received "sketchy details" of Jeff's death from the rear detachment of the 3rd Infantry Division, and the Army will investigate further. "You can't make sense of it," he said. "He's the only death out of his battalion."
But he's comforted by the fact that his son was "a leader on the field" and was doing his job. "He was a wonderful person and a great soldier," said his dad. "He got nothing but compliments from his commanding officers. We're proud of him. He was doing exactly what he wanted to do — he just ran out of luck. It's an absolute tragedy."
Funeral arrangements aren't yet completed, but the family's considering burial at Arlington National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Centreville High to establish a scholarship in Jeff's name.
His sisters, Tricia, 25, who works in Washington, D.C., and Cindy, 17, a Centreville junior, are both devastated. Said their mother: "They're fine, as long as they don't hear me cry." Cindy plays varsity soccer for the Wildcats, so her brother's death hit her teammates hard.
"Everyone was emotionally drained [Tuesday]," said school Principal Pam Latt. "Jeff was a wonderful kid, well-liked by faculty and students. The only reason we have our freedoms is because of people like Jeff who are willing to put their lives on the line."
Meanwhile, the Kaylors thank all the friends
and neighbors who've shown them such support in their time of grief. "We
all feel like our children are safe out here in these communities and no
harm will come to them," said Roxanne. "This makes it really hit home."
By Patricia Davis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 23, 2003
There are yellow ribbons tied around every pole in downtown Pageland, South Carolina, and American flags fly at half-staff. But the anguish the tiny community feels may be spelled out best in the banner that stretches across Main Street: "Thanks for everything. In memory of Jason Hicks."
The 25-year-old Hicks was one of six U.S. airmen killed March 23, 2003, in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. Family members and friends say Hicks, who was twice deployed to serve in Operation Enduring Freedom, most recently in January, died the same way he lived his abbreviated life: His HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter went down during a thunderstorm while the crew was trying to pick up two children with life-threatening head injuries.
"That was just typical Jason," said Eddie Rivers, chief of the Pageland Fire Department, where Hicks, like his father before him, was a volunteer firefighter. "He was always interested in helping someone else."
At a rain-slickened grave site at Arlington National Cemetery yesterday, Staff Sgt. Jason C. Hicks was honored for helping an entire nation. As a clear plastic tarp was carefully removed from his flag-draped coffin, and those who loved him most huddled close in the springtime chill, an HH-60 Pave Hawk roared overhead in a final salute.
"As we look around, we see that there are thousands of inscriptions and names that represent . . . the history of this great nation," Chaplain Mark Thomas said as rain tapped gently on the corrugated awning. "This afternoon we add another individual to the record of names who are identified as loving this country more than self. The cost of adding the name of Staff Sergeant Jason Hicks comes at a high price. He gave all to ensure freedom for all."
So, too, did Army Captain Tristan N. Aitken, 31, who also was buried at Arlington yesterday. Aitken, who grew up in State College, Pennsylvania, died in Iraq April 4, 2003, when he was hit with a round from a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher while riding in the lead vehicle of an artillery supply convoy.
Aitken, assigned to the 41st Field Artillery Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Georgia, leaves behind a wife of 16 months, Margo. At Texas Christian University, he was a member of ROTC. Ronald Aitken told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that his son was a devout Christian who went to spring break in Fort Lauderdale while in college, not to party, but to preach on the beach to other students. "His faith sustained him," Ronald Aitken said. "It was his shield. . . . He was a rock."
With U.S. forces defending freedom in Afghanistan and Iraq, for some at the cost of their lives, these have been busy days at the nation's preeminent military cemetery. At least five other service members who died in Iraq will be buried at Arlington this week, including today's service for Army First Lieutenant Jeffrey J. Kaylor, of Clifton. Kaylor, 24, a graduate of Centreville High School, was killed April 7 in a grenade attack about 20 miles outside Baghdad. He is survived by his wife Jenna, a Second Lieutenant in the Army.
The two met as members of Virginia Tech's Corps of Cadets. Like Aitken, Kaylor was assigned to Fort Stewart, with the 39th Field Artillery. He was deployed to the Middle East last August; his wife was serving in Kuwait at the time of his death.
Yesterday, Jenna Kaylor had this to say about her husband of 15 months: "Since the day Jeff entered my life, I have carried his soul with me everywhere. He is my strength, my love, my passion, my life. . . . The world is not complete without him -- I am not complete." The family has requested a private funeral.
Jason and Crystalyn Hicks had planned a traditional wedding next month, when he got back from Afghanistan. But four days before he left in January, they decided not to wait and have a second service when he got back. Crystalyn planned to be with her husband on his next posting, to Japan, his sister, Janet Barbee, said yesterday.
Hicks, who joined the Air Force in 1996 after graduating from high school and working for the Pageland Fire Department, discussed the upcoming church wedding in the last e-mail his sister received from him, on March 23, the day he died.
Their mother, Taresa, had a bad feeling when Hicks was first sent to Afghanistan, last July, for three months, Barbee said. She didn't want him to go. But Hicks assured his family that if he did die, he would be doing what he loved most.
"Nobody twisted my arm to do this," he told his sister. "Make sure they give me my flag."
Yesterday, his wife and his mother were each
presented with an American flag at his grave.
Keeping the Memory of Jeff Kaylor Alive
By James Moon
March 31, 2005
U.S. Army First Lieutenant Jeff Kaylor of Little Rocky Run died two years ago on April 7, 2003, while securing a surface-to-air missile cache near Baghdad when an abandoned anti-aircraft vehicle exploded.
His portrait was unveiled March 23 at the new "Faces of the Fallen" exhibit at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. It will run through September 5, 2005. Jeff's portrait is among 1,327 by 100 artists of soldiers who died from October 10, 2001 to November 14, 2004.
"It's very eclectic," said Jeff mother, Roxanne Kaylor, after viewing her son's portrait on the opening day. "All different kinds of media, but they are all 4x6-inches — that's what [brings] them [visually] together."
The portraits on display are crafted from almost anything — mirrors, clay, glass, newspaper collage, acrylic and crayon.
JEFFREY J. KAYLOR was born at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on October 22, 1979, but spent most of his life in the Little Rocky Run community where his family still resides. He attended Union Mill Elementary, Rocky Run Middle, and Centreville High School, where he was a middle linebacker for the varsity football team.
After graduation from Centreville High in 1997, he attended Virginia Tech, earning a B.S. in Management Science and Information Technology and joining the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets. He became a cadet Army battalion commander and a scholarship recipient for three years. Upon graduation in 2001, he was commissioned an Army Second Lieutenant in field artillery.
Following graduation, he attended jump and leadership schools at Fort Benning, Georgia, and received basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. In the spring of 2002, he was assigned to 1st/39th Artillery Battalion as platoon leader for the 2nd firing Platoon at Fort Stewart, Georgia, after completion of Field Artillery Officer Basic Course.
The next year, he married his wife Jenna, an Army Lieutenant he had met in Virginia Tech, but he received deployment orders. They wed on July 5, a month before he left for Kuwait to support the Intrinsic Action Rotation. He died the following spring during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Jeff, known affectionately as "Ffej" by friends, was a hero to many and "a wonderful man who left memories with everyone he knew," writes wife Jenna on a memorial Web site. Even those who knew him for a short while, such as First Lieutenant Trent B. Bunnell who served with him in Officer Basic Course, cannot forget "the smiles, the positive attitude and the new red Mustang," he wrote.
He led a distinguished career as an American serviceman, earning the Army Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, and the National Defense Service Medal. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart and laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on April 23, 2003 in section 60.
"THE ANGER and sadness is as strong as it was two years ago," said Roxanne Kaylor. "Jeff might have been alive today if our leaders had not rushed so hastily into a conflict which has produced so many needless deaths."
In the spirit of overcoming the sorrow and keeping alive Jeff's memory, Kayor's parents established the Jeffrey J. Kaylor Memorial Scholarship Fund to help individuals like Jeff in their community. "Jeff was a nice, average kid — responsible, perfect attendance — [he] enjoyed friends and teachers. The most enjoyable years for Jeff were high school."
Family and friends conducted a dedication ceremony for the scholarship at Centreville High last Saturday, presenting a bronze plaque to the school, now hung in the lobby outside the auditorium. Over 40 people were in attendance, including Jeff's friends, the Kaylor's neighbors in the community, and Sen. Jay O'Brien (R-39th).
The scholarship is open to CVHS seniors possessing a GPA of 2.5 and 3.5 or higher entering a U.S. university, college, technical or vocational school in the fall of 2005. Candidates will be considered on the basis of athletic participation, extracurricular activities, and personal strengths and qualities (as demonstrated in a personal statement and recommendations letters).
The evaluation committee, which is independent of Centreville High School, is made up of family and friends of Kaylor and is interested in helping students who felt the same was Jeff did in high school, those who have the same good attitude.
"We're looking for the average kid, the kind who wilt inside the wall and people forget about," said Roxanne Kaylor, in regards to the selection process. "Some times those kids are missed."
Either two scholarship awards of $1,000 for a male and female or just one scholarship at $1,500 will be offered. The deadline to apply is May 2, 2005. Application forms are available in the CVHS Career Center. For more information, contact Roxanne Kaylor at [email protected] or write to the Jeff Kaylor Memorial Scholarship Fund, Centreville High School, 6001 Union Mill Road, Clifton, Virginia 20124.
IN ADDITION, another scholarship, the Jeffrey J. Kaylor Memorial Emerging Leader Scholarship Fund, has been established by the Virginia Tech's Corps of Cadets. Kaylor is memorialized on one of the eight Ut Prosim War Memorial pylons at the northern end of Virginia Tech's Drill field, dedicated to members of the Corps killed in action.
Contact the Kaylor Memorial Fund at University
Development, 201 Pack Building (0336), Blacksburg, VA 24061, ATTN: Dave
Since the emergence of Cindy Sheehan this past summer and her antiwar group Gold Star Families for Peace, women have provided the public face of politicized sorrow in protests against American involvement in Iraq. While mothers of slain soldiers have galvanized themselves into action, their husbands have been largely off the radar, or at odds with their ambitions. While Ms. Sheehan was voicing her dissent with the war that caused her son's death by taking up residence on a roadside by President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, her husband stayed home in Vacaville, California, and filed for divorce.
Do women grieve more aggressively than men? This is the question that looms most prominently over "A Family at War," a quietly elegiac and profoundly moving documentary this evening on PBS. A Danish production, directed by Jorgen Flindt Pedersen, the film explores the different ways in which members of the Kaylor family of Clifton, Virginia, cope with the death of their son Jeff in an accident during the disabling of an Iraqi missile site last year.
Jeff's father, Mike, believes that the accident could have been avoided if his son's superiors had taken the proper precautions. But this understanding does not seem to consume him with anguish or spur him toward a megaphone. "If they had done that," Mr. Kaylor says hesitantly, "nobody would have - I would think that nobody would have been killed." Mr. Kaylor speaks about the circumstances of his son's death with the tone of someone describing a not entirely successful dental procedure.
"Coping with it is just staying busy," he says. "You have to take that tragedy and lock it in your mind some way."
His wife, Roxanne, has locked nothing away, though one imagines that most of her life has been lived with far greater reserve than she is capable of today. Mrs. Kaylor is a gentle woman with a curious mind; she reads about the war endlessly and writes to politicians. Her husband suggests that perhaps she should not spend so much time on the Internet.
Mike Kaylor had served in the military himself; he feels that the Iraq war is just, and death its corollary. Mrs. Kaylor has come to a different view, believing that her son died in vain and saying the administration should be held accountable for its decision to go to war. She is uncomfortable with the displays of patriotism and pageantry in honor of her son. Mr. Pedersen deftly evokes the burden of losing someone so publicly. The Kaylors must attend memorials for their son at Arlington National Cemetery and at football games at Virginia Tech, their son's alma mater. At one point, while Mr. Kaylor is at a dry cleaner, the clerk begins telling the next customer about the Kaylors' tragedy. "When was it?" he asks Mr. Kaylor. "Two months ago?"
And there is Jenna Kaylor, the young woman - and fellow military officer - Mr. Kaylor married nine months before he was killed. She mourns the children and anniversaries the couple will never have, and mourning has given her the somnolent quality of someone whose energies have been all and unwillingly depleted. Like her father-in-law, she remains in favor of the war, but her husband's death prompts her to leave the military.
Mr. Pedersen spares us any reality-TV-like examination of familial discord. No voices are raised, no plates thrown. The family members are, for the most part, shot separately - a technique that affords each his or her dignity. Mr. Pedersen has no inclination to Michael Moore-ism. It might be easy to imagine a liberal filmmaker from Denmark having his way with Mike Kaylor's politics, but Mr. Pedersen casts no such judgment, portraying him instead as a man, like so many others, who lives at some distance from his emotions.
You imagine the Kaylors having a rough time
of it together but perservering. The final words in the film belong to
Mr. Kaylor as he contemplates his son's death: "Is it worth losing a son?
No, it's not. I wouldn't give him up for anybody."
Posted: 15 April 2003 Updated: 28 April 2003 Updated: 6 July 2003 Updated: 30 October 2004 Updated: 3 February 2005 Updated: 8 November 2005 Updated: 11 February 2006
Updated: 13 May 2008
Photo By Michael Robert Patterson, May 2008
Photo By M. R. Patterson, 27 June 2003
Photo By M. R. Patterson, 24 April 2004