Travis L. Youngblood – Petty Officer Third, United States Navy

NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
No. 749-05
Jul 22, 2005

DoD Identifies Navy Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a sailor who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Travis L. Youngblood, 26, of Surrency, Georgia, died July 21, 2005, of wounds received July 15, 2005, from an improvised explosive device during combat operations in Hit, Iraq.  Youngblood was a hospital corpsman assigned to Naval Hospital Great Lakes, Great Lakes, Illinois, and deployed with the II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).


Georgian dies of wounds from explosive in Iraq

Courtesy of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
25 July 2005

Elmer “Mo” Youngblood wasn't sure why his sailor son had decided to become a medic. It was a job that took him off a ship and put him in harm's way in Iraq.

Youngblood, a former Navy man, got regular e-mails from his son that he was all right. Last week, his daughter-in-law called to tell him he would have to go to a funeral.

Her husband — his son — Petty Officer 3rd Class Travis Levy Youngblood, had died from shrapnel wounds. He was 26.

He was a Corpsman with a Marine unit conducting combat operations in the town of Hit when an “improvised explosive device” sent shrapnel into his legs and throat on July 15, according to the Department of Defense. He died in a military hospital in Baghdad on Thursday.

“I was tickled to death with him being in the Navy,” said Elmer Youngblood by telephone from his home in Surrency in southeast Georgia on Saturday. “I wasn't too happy when he basically volunteered to go over there, but it was his choice.”

Travis Youngblood grew up mostly in Virginia and graduated from high school there. He did a short stint at Appling County High School after his father moved back to to be with his relatives in Surrency following a divorce in the 1990s.

The small town near Baxley was the place the sailor called home on his enlistment papers, and he and his father wielded a fishing rods and shotguns together.

Travis had wanted the Navy to train him as an electronics technician, but he didn't get that job. Youngblood called it a “good question” about why his son's second choice was a front-line job as a medic.

“For some reason or another, he wanted to be a corpsman,” Youngblood said.

Travis Youngblood had re-enlisted about a year ago. His wife, Laura, whom he met in the Navy, called his father with the news Friday from home in Long Beach, N.Y. She had left the service and is pregnant with the couple's second child, a girl, Elmer Youngblood said. Hunter Youngblood, their 4-year-old son, is with her.

“He is too young to understand,” Youngblood said of his grandson. “She is trying to stay away from him because he keeps wondering why she is crying.”

As of Friday, 29 American soldiers, sailors and Marines reportedly had died in July in Iraq, with 21 killed by improvised explosives.

The 50-year-old Youngblood, who served nine years in the Navy, said he felt the service would shape up his son.

“I halfway encouraged him to enlist,” Youngblood said. “I know it helped me mature a lot when I was in. I think it helped him mature a lot, too. You see a different world in there than out here. You learn the discipline and that you can't do everything you want to. You learn to accept the way life is.”

Travis Youngblood was serving with Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) when he was wounded.

He is to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery on August 1, 2005, his father said.

Courtesy of The Virginian-Pilot
July 29, 2005

Navy Corpsman Travis L. Youngblood saw more sand than he could imagine in Iraq. He met friendly villagers. And he saw horrible sights while rushing into combat with Marines.

In his last conversation with his mother, Debra Youngblood of Smithfield, he warned that his work was dangerous. He told her he wouldn’t be safe until he was home.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Youngblood, 26 , died July 21, 2005, of combat wounds suffered in Iraq. Youngblood was struck by shrapnel from an improvised explosive device six days earlier during a mission in Hit, Iraq, according to the Department of Defense.

Youngblood was assigned to Naval Hospital Great Lakes in Illinois and deployed with the II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).

A total of 1,790 service members have been killed in Iraq since combat began in March 2003, according to the Defense Department. Nearly 1,650 service members have been killed since major combat operations concluded in May 2003.

Youngblood graduated from Southampton High School in 1997 . He was a member of the drama club.

“He went about his business,” Principal Allene Atkinson said. “He was one of our quiet ones.”

The rural district has about 700 students in its high school.

After school, Youngblood moved to Georgia to be with his father, Elmer “Mo” Youngblood.

His father and an uncle served in the military, and Travis soon followed when he enlisted in the Navy in 1999, Debra Youngblood said. He asked his mother if he should enlist.

“I supported him,” she said.

Travis wanted to serve on submarines, but a vision problem prevented him from getting his first choice, she said. He became a medic, charged with caring for wounded Marines in the field.

He deployed to Iraq in January and called his mother at least once a month. He joked about the sand and told her stories about good-natured locals.

He also said he had seen “horrible things.”

Debra Youngblood was staying with her son E.J. in Smithfield when they received the news that Travis was dead.

“At first you think it’s a dream and you think you’re going to wake up,” she said. “Then you bury yourself in details. At night, you sit and think. You’re never going to hug him again – you’re never going to touch his face again.”

Travis Youngblood will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery on August 1,2005. He leaves behind a wife, Laura, and a 4-year-old son, Hunter.

His wife is due to deliver their second child in September. Their daughter will be named Emma.

Her husband may have died in Iraq, but after their daughter is born, his wife says he'll never be lost

September 28, 2005
Courtesy of Newsday

Travis Youngblood's picture never left his wife's side. It was there as she rode in the car to the hospital on the way to give birth to their second child.

It was in his wife's hand in the delivery room. And it smiled at their new baby daughter, silently sleeping in her bassinet yesterday afternoon.

Though he died in Iraq two months before, Youngblood's spirit was present the whole time.

And when Laura Youngblood looked at their daughter's slate gray eyes and long fingernails for the first time, she saw Travis.

“There's pieces of him in there,” she said yesterday, both smiling and in tears. “They're all I have left of him.”

Eight weeks before, Laura Youngblood of South Hempstead, had laid her 26-year-old husband to rest in Arlington National Cemetery after he was killed by an explosive device in Hit, Iraq. In grief, her husband's dream of the “cute little girly girl” named Emma now also brought sorrow.

“Tell the belly to wait a bit,” she would recall her husband telling her over the phone.

And the baby did. Laura Youngblood's water never broke on her due date, and a Caesarean section was scheduled.

Monday, the day of the operation, she wrote a letter to her husband's old e-mail account.

“We're gonna have the baby,” she told him. “And I know you're gonna be there.”

Refusing the help of her family, she climbed into her car, a picture of her husband smiling beside her, and their 4-year-old son, Hunter, in hand, and drove to the hospital.

“It was me and Travis' moment,” she said.

Laura Youngblood, 26, clutched the same picture in her hand during the surgery. And as if she was still waiting for her father, Emma did not easily come out, with the doctors eventually giving her a light push.

Then she emerged – a small, pink, seven-pound girl with soft dark hair, whose eyes, forehead and long toes resembled those of her father.

“I know he was there,” Laura Youngblood said. “He had to be there. He's part of her.”

She met her husband while both were training to become corpsmen at Camp Pendleton, Calif. The couple traveled throughout the world together, until Laura Youngblood gave birth to their first child.

Travis Youngblood was sent to Iraq in January, but was scheduled to come home before Emma's birth. The medic had been serving as a corpsman for the II Marine Expeditionary Force.

Sleeping in her bassinet yesterday, Emma rested quietly on her side, staring at the picture of her father that her mother had taped inside.

“Every day that goes by, they'll know how special their daddy was and is,” Laura said. “People don't die if you remember. And we will always remember. Always.”

Laura Youngblood holds daughter, Emma
Hunter Youngblood takes a picture of his newborn sister, Emma, at South
Nassau Comunities Hospital on Tuesday, September 27, 2005.
Son Hunter shows his mother Laura Youngblood the digital photo he took of his newborn sister at South Nassau Comunities Hospital on Tuesday, September 27, 2005

‘Daddy is a hero and an angel’

Courtesy of Newsday
October 27, 2005

In Hunter Youngblood's world, there are good guys and bad guys, heroes and angels. His father is one of the good guys who went to fight the bad guys in Iraq. And when he died in July after being hit by an explosive device, he became both a hero and an angel.

“Daddy never gave up,” the 4-year-old tells his mother, Laura Youngblood, of South Hempstead.

Maybe it was the news report he overheard about the suicide bombings at Baghdad's Palestine Hotel. Or the announcement yesterday that military deaths had now climbed to 2,001 in Iraq. But slowly, his simple understanding of the world is starting to change.

“Why did Daddy die?” Laura Youngblood said her son asked her a couple of days ago. “Why couldn't he fly away? Like Batman?”

Batman is who his father, Travis Youngblood, a 26-year-old medic with the Marines, was supposed to dress up as and go trick-or-treating with his son for Halloween when he got home after eight months in Iraq. Hunter was going to be Robin. When he and his mother went shopping for costumes a month ago, though, Hunter changed his mind. “Can I be Batman now?” he asked.

Laura Youngblood said yes. Hunter had, after all, experienced enough to earn himself the title. “Little by little he understands more and more,” she said tearfully. “I can't shield him from the world.”

In August, Hunter attended his father's funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. It was little Hunter who accepted his father's Purple Heart.

“Daddy's present” is what he calls the gold and purple medallion. “He doesn't like anyone else touching it,” she said, “because it's his and Daddy gave it to him.”

It was likewise Hunter who took pictures of his new baby sister, Emma, at the hospital a month ago. “She looks like me,” Hunter told his mother then. “And who else?” she asked him. “My Daddy.”

And when he catches his mother crying in a moment of grief, Hunter comforts her. “Do you miss Daddy?” he asks her then. “Sometimes he says he misses Daddy, too,” Laura Youngblood said. “And sometimes he says, ‘We'll be OK.'”

What Travis Youngblood would have wished for his children usually seems clear to her. He sat his son down before going to Iraq and, in good-guy and bad-guy terms, explained why he was going to war.

And when her husband died, it was in simple words that Laura explained his death. Daddy was now an angel.

The future, though, and the grieving process don't fit any vocabulary. She still writes to her husband through e-mail and letters, and calls his phone, just to hear his voice. She always gets the same message.

“You've reached Travis,” he says, “I'm not here.”

She tells her son and daughter that Daddy is watching over them every day. It's a daunting thing for a child to understand, but somehow, Hunter almost does, she said.

“Daddy is a hero and an angel,” Hunter tells her. And sometimes, maybe when no one else is around, he says he talks to his daddy. And Daddy says, “We're going to be OK.”

5 February 2007:

Once a month, Laura Youngblood takes her 6-year-old son Hunter to Arlington National Cemetery to visit “Daddy's garden.”

“We bring stuff, pictures. He runs out first to his daddy's stone,” she said. “He runs to his stone and gives it a kiss and says ‘I love you, Daddy,' and gives him the gifts.”

Hunter was 4 and Youngblood, 28, was eight months pregnant with her second child when she learned her husband, Travis Youngblood, a Navy medic, had been hit with an improvised explosive device in Iraq in July 2005. Though she'd at first been told he was expected to recover, she found out five days later that he'd died.

At first, she said, she lost interest in the baby she was carrying and started losing weight.

“I didn't even want my child, and I know it sounds sad. I didn't want anything, I wanted to take care of Hunter and I wasn't thinking about the child,” she said. “And then I kept thinking, I still have this part of him inside me.”

She drove herself to the hospital for a cesarean section. During the surgery, she kept her husband's portrait on her chest. She called her daughter Emma, a name her husband chose in his last letter home as “fitting for his little princess,” and placed the portrait in Emma's bassinet.

Fifteen months later, Laura Youngblood now lives in Columbus, Ohio, where she and her children can be close to the base of those who served alongside her husband. Laura, who spent five years in the Navy and is currently in the reserves, grew up in Long Beach and remained there with her family for months after her husband's death, but said she could not afford to stay in New York on her Social Security and husband's disability income.

“I'd love to, I grew up there and I know where everything is, I have friends and family there to help me, but I can't afford it right now,” she said.

Raising her children alone is difficult, she said, but she has dedicated her life to them and to his memory. “I live my life in honor of my husband, I raise my kids in honor of my husband. I'm still married, I'm happily married. All I do is take care of my kids,” she said. “We talk about him every day. We have pictures in everyone's room. He's still my husband, he's still their daddy.”

For Emma, who will never meet her father, Laura has made 15-minute videos of photographs and home movies. “She'll point to the pictures and we say, ‘Daddy,' and she'll say, ‘Daddy.' ”

Laura said she hopes to return to school eventually and get a job, but “right now I don't have the time and energy to do anything.”

“Hunter knows how his daddy was killed, and he knows where and by who, and he knows everything,” she said. “I'm not going to lie, I'd rather he know the truth before I lie to him. He'll always tell people that his daddy's a hero, and then sometimes he cries and says he wishes Daddy was alive, and every time he'll make me make a wish.”

“He says, ‘I know what you wished for. I know you wished Daddy was alive.' I cry, of course. All the time, but it's our life, and I'm proud of my husband and I stand behind him for everything he did and what all of our troops did.”

8 March 2008:

Laura Youngblood clutched her husband's photo as she drove alone to the hospital. She'd become pregnant nearly nine months earlier, the day he'd left for training for Iraq. Hours later, after the baby was born, she placed the photo in the bassinet next to the infant he'd named Emma in his last letter home. He would never hold her.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Travis L. Youngblood, 26, had died two months earlier, killed by an improvised explosive device.

5 Years in Iraq Changed Lives
Laura Youngblood poses for a photographer with daughter Emma, 2, while holding a photo of her husband, at their home in Sebastian, Fla., Thursday, Feb. 28, 2008. Youngblood's husband Petty Officer 3rd Class Travis L. Youngblood, 26, died on July 21, 2005 from wounds received while serving in Iraq.

Laura Youngblood is just 29 years old, but she insists she will not remarry. Her life is her children, now ages 2 and 7. One day, she says, she'll be buried in the plot with her husband at Arlington National Cemetery.

“I tell people I'm a happily married woman,” she says, crying.

laura-youngblood-children-photo-february-2007-001 tlyoungblood-visitor-05242009-001 tlyoungblood-visitor-05242009-002


  • HM3   US NAVY
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 06/05/1979
  • DATE OF DEATH: 07/21/2005


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