U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 1134-10
December 10, 2010
DOD Identifies Army Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died December 8, 2010, in Balkh province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an insurgent attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device.
Sergeant James A. Ayube, II, 25, of Salem, Massassusetts
Specialist Kelly J. Mixon, 23, of Yulee, Florida
The soldiers were assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, Vilseck, Germany.
10 December 2011:
When Kelly J. Mixon came home from Afghanistan for Thanksgiving in Yulee, he got to do two of his favorite things: mess around in the kitchen and play the drums.
It was a happy time, family and friends say, tinged with worries about how the rest of his deployment would go.
Those fears became true this week. Mixon and a sergeant from Massachusetts were killed in Balkh province, Afghanistan, after an insurgent attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device.
Mixon, a U.S. Army Specialist, would have turned 24 in two weeks. He got married right before he was deployed.
Mixon had talked for years, on and off, about enlisting in some branch of the military, friends and family said. When he signed up a few years after high school, it was clear he’d made the right choice.
“When I saw him, he was the happiest I’d seen him in many a long time,” said Mary Sikes, who works in Fernandina Beach High School’s guidance department and saw Mixon over Thanksgiving.
Although Mixon could seem rebellious — “not afraid to be himself in front of everybody” is how his friend Ryan Teston described it — it wasn’t much of a surprise when he enlisted or when he went on to become a sniper.
“He was just looking for a big adventure,” said Bob Jenkins, a drumline instructor who taught Mixon how to play. “He always liked to do everything the best he could.”
Drumming was a major part of Mixon’s life before he enlisted. He was interested in music in middle school and joined the band when he went on to Fernandina Beach High School. “Over the next four years, he was the best student I ever had,” Jenkins said.
He eventually became part of the D-Line, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ official drumline.
When Mixon came home for Thanksgiving, he stopped by and practiced with the current band members at the high school, Teston said.
“He talked about how things were going,” said Teston, who had played with Mixon back in high school. “He didn’t really like Afghanistan, but he enjoyed the Army.”
As the news circulated through his close-knit circle of friends and family, the thought that he was happy in the Army provided some comfort.
“Everyone was scared” when Mixon left to finish his deployment, his aunt, Ginny Mixon, said through her tears Friday afternoon. “But he was doing what he wanted to do.”
When Mixon finished up his tour, several friends said, he planned on going to culinary school, building on his love of cooking.
Although home for only a short time on his last visit back, he managed to indulge that love, too, whipping up a batch of hot wings.
18 December 2011:
The body of a local soldier killed in Afghanistan will be arriving in Jacksonville today.
Kelly Mixon, 23, an Army Specialist from Yulee, was killed in Balkh province after an insurgent's attack with an improvised explosive device.
His remains are scheduled to arrive at Jacksonville International Airport about 5:15 p.m. from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. A motorcade will form at JIA and go to Fernandina Beach.
Mixon's body will be taken to the Burgess Chapel of Oxley-Heard. On Sunday at 12:30 p.m. his body will be transferred to the First Baptist Church of Fernandina Beach. The funeral is set for 2 p.m.
The family will receive friends in the Family Life Center of First Baptist following the service.
After the local services, the body will be returned to the Burgess Chapel, where it will remain until taken back to Washington to be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.
19 December 2011:
For a few minutes Sunday afternoon, the Jacksonville Jaguars' official drumline – two booming bass drums, three rattling snare drums and three sets of clashing cymbals – pounded out its ferocious rhythms in the normally sedate sanctuary of the First Baptist Church.
But on a gray and chilly day, it was a perfect way to honor Kelly Mixon, 23, a U.S. Army Specialist killed December 8, 2010, in Balkh province, Afghanistan.
He was crazy about drums, friend said, and he drummed whenever and wherever he could: On books, bus seats and the backs of desks, if he had no drums with him.
“He had drumsticks everywhere he went,” said Rachel Davis, who danced in the color guard of the Fernandina Beach High School to the rhythms Mixon put down.
Mixon drummed for the school's Mighty Marching Pirates for four years, and was also a member of the D-Line, the Jaguars drumline.
Before a 2 p.m. service, people lined South Eighth Street near the church as a hearse bearing Mixon's flag-lined coffin came to the church, accompanied by fire trucks, police cars and dozens of motorcycles.
During and before the funeral, friends and family remembered him as a practical joker who loved to cook and fish. They said he was natural leader who readily joined the Army despite knowing the risks that might await him overseas.
Speaking during the service, Bob Jenkins, who helped teach drummers at Fernandina Beach High, said he first saw Mixon as a skinny 14-year-old freshman.
He was sitting on a wall at school, trying to drum along to the band with a pair of mismatched sticks pounding on a textbook. His tongue sticking out, his face contorted, he was terrible, Jenkins said.
But Mixon was persistent, and dedicated, and eventually became one of the best drummers the Mighty Marching Pirates ever produced.
Mixon, who was an Army sniper, was killed along with Sergeant James A. Ayube II, 25, of Salem, Massachuetts, after a suicide bomber attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device.
He was about two weeks shy of his 24th birthday. He and his wife, Amy, were married shortly before he was deployed to Afghanistan.
Mixon came home to Yulee last month to see his family, and also found time to drop by the high school band to give tips to its current drummers.
During that trip home, he also met with the D-Line at a Jaguars home game against the Houston Texans. Robert Horne, a member of the D-Line, said Mixon told them he was drumming on his drum pad every chance he got in Afghanistan. “He said he drove the guys he was living with crazy,” Horne said.
Before the service, photos of Mixon played on two big screens, showing him as a young boy, with his parents Judy and Harold Bargeron Jr., with Amy, and fishing and clowning around with friends.
Many of those who were in the Mighty Marching Pirates with Mixon watched tearfully in the cold as his coffin was brought into the sanctuary.
Ryan Teston was among them. He met Mixon while playing in the band at Fernandina Beach Middle School. “He played clarinet and had a high-top ‘fro, a nice 1980s hairdo going on,” Teston said.
They both moved on to drums in high school, with Teston, a grade behind, always trying to keep up with his friend.
Teston last saw Mixon on his trip home in November. They ate chicken wings together at Sandy Bottoms Beach Bar and Grill, where Mixon talked about everything but Afghanistan.
“I didn't want to bring it up; he was on R&R,” said Teston. “He didn't seem like he had anything bad in his life. It seemed like everything was really going well. He'd grown up a lot.”
- SPC US ARMY
- DATE OF BIRTH: 12/21/1986
- DATE OF DEATH: 12/08/2010
- BURIED AT: SECTION 60 SITE 9501
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard