Kevin Michael Kryst – Captain, United States Marine Corps

U.S. Department of Defense

Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Release
DoD Identifies Marine Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two Marines who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Lance Corporal Nicklas J. Palmer, 19, of Leadville, Colorado
Captain Kevin M. Kryst, 27, of West Bend, Wisconsin

Palmer died December 16, 2006, while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California.

Kryst died December 18, 2006, from wounds received while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Light-Attack Helicopter Squadron 267, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force Camp Pendleton, California.

Media with questions about these Marines can call the Camp Pendleton public affairs office at (760) 725-5044.

19 December 2006:

West Bend, Wisconsin – The children of Elizabeth and Glenn Kryst gathered unexpectedly at the family home here, the week before Christmas, to grieve with their parents the death of their eldest brother in Iraq.

Captain Kevin M. Kryst, 27, a Marine helicopter pilot with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., had returned to Iraq for a second time at the beginning of the month, his mother said.

He was killed Monday at the Marine Corps' Camp Korean Village, in the desert of Anbar province west of Baghdad, she said.

A Sunni-led insurgency has made Anbar, on the border of Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, one of the deadliest battlefronts in the Iraq war. The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit has its headquarters at the camp in Anbar, and its mission is to secure major highways in the province.

“We were only told he sustained abdominal injuries from shrapnel in a mortar attack while he was on the base,” his mother said. “He was not in a helicopter.”

“He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Elizabeth Kryst said that she and her husband and their five other children were proud of Kevin's service to his country.

“He was committed to the effort in Iraq, and so were we,” she said. Two symbols of their commitment flutter in the breeze outside her home: a Marine Corps flag hangs over the front porch while an American flag is displayed nearby.

“He loved his country. His job in Iraq was to fly his helicopter and protect his Marines on the ground.”

“The Marines have lost a highly-skilled pilot,” she said.

“We're numb,” his mother added.

Kevin Kryst's younger brother, Dan, 23, a member of the Marine Reserves, has also served a tour of duty in Iraq, having been deployed there in 2004.

Kevin Kryst spent a few days at home in August while on leave prior to a six-month deployment, she said.

The home visit was long enough for him to become engaged to his West Bend sweetheart. Elizabeth Kryst identified his fiancée as Sara but declined to provide her last name, saying she wanted to protect the young woman's privacy.

Family memorial

A memorial to Kevin Kryst was created Tuesday on a tree in the family's lawn. Red, blue and yellow ribbons wrap the trunk. A balloon with the phrase Proud to be American was tied to the tree and floated in a light breeze. A bouquet of flowers leaned against the base of the tree.

‘An excellent student'

Kevin Kryst graduated from West Bend West High School in 1997. He played French horn in a school ensemble and was a member of the Spartans' swim team, said Principal Pat Gardon.

“He was an excellent student” and graduated with a grade point average in excess of 3.9, Gardon said. “Kevin was a sincere, dedicated young man.”

Students at the school learned of Kryst's death in an announcement near the end of the day Tuesday.

He is the second West Bend West graduate to die in Iraq.

Marine Lance Cpl. Travis Wichlacz was killed in February 2005 while on patrol in Babil province. Wichlacz graduated in 2002. He had joined the Marine Reserves in April of that year.

Kevin Kryst enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison after his graduation.

His younger brother Brad doesn't remember Kevin talking about a military career while in high school.

But the Marine Corps attracted his attention while he was at Madison, and Kevin Kryst attended Marine Officer Candidates School during summers at college, his brother said. Kevin Kryst was commissioned an officer when he graduated from UW-Madison in 2001.

“He wanted to fly, and he thought his experience would be an adventure,” said Brad Kryst, 25, a Tempe, Ariz. resident.

“He flew Cobra helicopters in Iraq.”

At Camp Pendleton, Kryst was assigned to Marine Light-Attack Helicopter Squadron 267, Marine Aircraft Group 39 of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

Brad Kryst said he had discussed with Kevin the danger of serving in Iraq, and even the possible loss of his brother's life.

“It's always on your mind,” he said.

Kevin Kryst is the 65th service member from Wisconsin to die in Iraq.

In addition to his parents and his brothers Brad and Dan, a student at UW-Stevens Point, Kevin Kryst is survived by a sister, Jenny, 21, a student at UW-Oshkosh, and two other brothers, Justin, 21, a UW-Stevens Point student; and Tim, 18, a student at UW-La Crosse.

Kryst, Captain Kevin Michael

Captain Kevin Michael Kryst, age 27, of West Bend, Wisconsin, died Monday, December 18, 2006, in the Al Anbar province in Iraq, while serving his country as a United States Marine.

He was born September 17, 1979, in Maywood, Illinois, to Glenn and Elizabeth (nee Dziak) Kryst.

Kevin was a pilot of a Cobra helicopter in the Marine Light-Attack Helicopter Squadron 267, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

He is survived by his parents, Glenn and Elizabeth of West Bend; his fiancee, Sara of West Bend; and five siblings, Bradley of Mesa, Arizona, Daniel of Stevens Point and Jennifer, Justin and Timothy, all of West Bend. He is further survived by his maternal grandparents, Sy and Betty Dziak of Illinois; his paternal grandparents, Clifford and Rita Kryst of Michigan; and other relatives and friends.

A Mass of Christian burial will be held Friday, December 29, 2006, at 6 p.m. at ST. FRANCES CABRINI CATHOLIC CHURCH in West Bend, with the Rev. Jeffrey Haines presiding. Inurnment will take place in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

Visitation will be Friday, at the church only from 3 p.m. until 5:45 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials to the Fisher House, which provides housing for the families of wounded military personnel are appreciated.

A 27-year-old Marine helicopter pilot from West Bend was killed in Iraq, only weeks after beginning his second deployment there, his mother said Tuesday.

Captain Kevin M. Kryst died Monday from injuries sustained in fighting in al-Anbar province, the Department of Defense said in a statement.

Wi Marine Killed

“He died from injuries due to being hit by a fragment of a mortar,” said his mother, Elizabeth Kryst.

“We're proud of him,” she said. “But we're at a loss without him.”

Kryst was the oldest of six children. He had four younger brothers and a younger sister.

He graduated from West Bend West High School in 1997 and the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2001. He enlisted upon graduation.

Kryst's great-grandfather had been a Marine.

“It was something he always wanted to do,” Elizabeth Kryst said.

Kryst was first deployed in Iraq during 2004.

“He was always very active, very busy. He had a need for speed, and that's what he got flying helicopters,” Elizabeth Kryst said.

Her son was part of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, she said.

Patrick Gardon, West Bend West principal, issued a statement Tuesday saying that Kryst had been on the school's swimming team and part of its wind ensemble.

“He was very proud to serve his country and was a quality individual of high character, dedication and commitment, as well as an excellent student,” Gardon said.

As of Tuesday, 64 military personnel from Wisconsin have died in the war in Iraq.

NOTE: Captain Kryst was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery on 5 July 2007.

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