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Roadside bomb claims life of Lewis soldier

Post by Scott Fontaine on Sep. 28, 2009 at 7:54 am with 19 Comments »
October 3, 2009 7:06 pm
Spc. Kevin J. Graham
Spc. Kevin J. Graham

The e-mail arrived at Fort Lewis on Saturday afternoon, and the message was all too familiar. Stryker troops from the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment had been involved in a violent encounter in Afghanistan that day. One soldier was dead.

He was identified Monday as Spc. Kevin J. Graham of Benton, Ky. The 27-year-old infantryman was on his first overseas deployment.

But Graham’s identity was not shared in the e-mail sent to Fort Lewis families on Saturday. The details of his death, as in all messages of this kind, were scant: The soldier’s primary and secondary next of kin had been notified. The unit would hold a memorial service, with the time and place to be determined.

“Please remember to keep the soldiers of 1-17 IN and all other deployed soldiers in your thoughts and prayers,” Capt. Franky Kim, the battalion’s rear detachment commander, wrote at the end of the message. “Thank you for your continuous support.”

Graham was killed when a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle in Kandahar. He enlisted in the Army in July 2007 and was assigned to Fort Lewis in December 2007.

Graham’s relatives in Benton — a town of about 4,400 people in western Kentucky — couldn’t be reached Monday. A relative told The News Tribune that Graham’s parents were returning Monday from Dover Air Force Base, Del., where Graham’s remains arrived stateside.

His death is the 16th for the Strykers of the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. And 10 of those deaths have fallen on a single battalion, the 1-17.

Since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began, only five other Fort Lewis Stryker battalions have lost 10 or more soldiers, and those were sustained over a full 12- or 15-month deployment. The 1-17 and its parent brigade have been deployed less than three months.

A battalion is the largest self-sufficient fighting force within a Stryker brigade. Led by a lieutenant colonel, each battalion is equipped with four companies and a total of about 500 soldiers.

Given the recent drop in violence in Iraq — where Fort Lewis’ other two Stryker brigades are serving — the toll of future attacks on Fort Lewis soldiers will likely continue to fall hardest on 5th Brigade and its three infantry battalions.

The brigade faces a difficult mission in the spiritual birthplace of the Taliban. Kandahar, like much of the country, was effectively conquered during the American-led invasion. But NATO, which has since taken over responsibility for international operations in Afghanistan, relied on local police and Afghan military units to keep the peace.

The Canadian military had a force of about 2,500 troops in Kandahar province, a force small enough to allow the Taliban to quietly regain large swaths of territory.

The 5th Brigade arrived in July to augment the Canadian force and to reclaim the lost territory.

1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment’s losses:

— Pfc. Jonathan Yanney and Spc. Troy Tom died Aug. 18 when a soldier stepped on a bomb as their unit was setting up camp. The soldiers had been involved in a firefight with Taliban insurgents earlier that day.

— Spc. Dennis Williams, Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Sawyer, Capt. Cory Jenkins and Capt. John Hallett died Aug. 25 when a roadside bomb detonated near their Stryker. The four were returning from a medical humanitarian mission to a village whose residents were suffering from a cholera outbreak.

— Spc. Jonathan Welch, Spc. Tyler Walshe-Vietti, Pfc. Jordan Brochu were killed in two separate bomb strikes during “Operation Opportunity Hold,” a multi-day operation to control part of the Arghandab Valley.

— Spc. Kevin Graham died Saturday when a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle. No other details of the attack have been released.

Leave a comment Comments → 19
  1. hisarmywife says:

    RIP Spc Graham. 1-17 has been through so much since the beginning of july. I pray that this ends soon so that the rest of our men in the middle east can come home safetly.

  2. NetSoldier says:

    Thanks SPC Graham for your ultimate sacrifice. Your country and your fellow Americans are blessed to have known you and fortunate for having the benefits of your service to our nation. Thank you and your family and all those away from their families in harms way.

  3. Palin2012 says:

    Rick1946, but Mexico is our ally Al Qaeda (in Afgansitan) are our enemies. I understand by your name 1946, you are from the older days. But read current news and you shall be enlightened.

  4. its time to bring home our guys and gals.

    just as Rick1946 posted.

  5. ddbrisco17 says:

    My thoughts and prayers go out to SPC Graham and his family. Thank you so much for your sacrifice to our Country. What a hero you are along with your fellow soldiers fighting for our freedom. May God Bless each of you!

  6. williams24 says:

    I’m going to miss you so much buddy… i cant beleive this happened…. we are gonna get them back. ill never forget you. thanks for everything you have taught me since i joined the team… Prayers to your family buddy. i love you and im gonna miss you.

    – Williams.

  7. KEVINAUNT says:

    My heart breaks whenever I hear of any of our soldiers’ death or injury. I always prayed that these wars would end and all our soldiers would come home. On Saturday upon hearing of my nephew, Kevin’s death, I now know personally as a family member of a fallen soldier, how devistating this is for any family. Kevin was a wonderful Christian man with a wife, son and a large close knit family. We have spent three days crying and comforting each other. He told us he loved this country was prepared for this. Unfortunately we are not. Yours prayers are so welcome.

  8. Are the Strykers holding up at all to the roadside bombs?

  9. hisarmywife says:

    n7uno- No they are not. its like driving a prius 100 miles an hour into a brick wall.

  10. KEVINSUNCLE says:

    I echo the remarks made by my sister above, we will miss you Kevin our nephew and HERO. You lived life right, and honorable God Bless You and God Bless and comfort all that have lost loved ones in harms way, and protect them that are still there

  11. DeepSorrow says:

    I want to offer my prayers to all of Spc. Kevin Grahams family.

    I feel that it is time for our soldiers to come home. We have given enough of our men and woman over there. It breaks my heart, every time I hear about one of our troops being hurt or killed. So many are so young, they haven’t had a chance to even live their lives yet.

    Kevin is my nephew from my previous marriage, I haven’t seen him since he was a child. He sure grew up to be a man to be admired. It devastates me, knowing how much hurt his family is going through.

    I have a son and daughter that are near the same age, and I can’t even imagine losing either one of them.

    My heart goes out to his wife and children, his parents, brothers and all his other family. Please know that he will always be remembered, and is everyones HERO. He is your special Angel now. God bless you Kevin, and thank you.

  12. tammy tappan says:

    My heart goes out to your family . My son is in the 5th stryker brigade and I can’t even imagine your paiin. My family will pray for you to find some peace, and our deepest condolences. There are just no words. Just know that he will be your guardian angel now. God bless your family and know that kevin will always be around you still. I thank kevin and our troops for their honor, bravery and selflessness! We love you and rest in peace. You are our hero always! Thank you kevin!

    Deepest sympathy,

    Love, tammy tappan

  13. Thank you Spc. Kevin Graham for giving all you could for your country. You are a hero and take a place of honor alongside so many that have given their life to create and sustain this great country.
    Your mission was selfless and of the highest honor, and you become a part of the very fabric that makes up our flag. May your family find comfort whenever and wherever the Stars & Stripes is displayed and strength with the knowledge that as it is honored, Kevin is.

  14. DentedRick says:

    Our heart goes out to those left behind by the passing of this Man. Though I knew him only a short time, we became good friends, and I will miss him very much. Living across the street, we’ve gotten to know him, and after he deployed, we got to know his wife, and son. We have been here for his wife and child since that fateful Saturday morning, and I can only wish it had not been them.

    My heart breaks when someone only knows one side of the story and makes assumptions based on that, instead of getting all the facts. From my point of view, many people have turned the death of this soldier into a pity circus of “poor Me”. Shame on you! This is a time to bring Family together to get through this. ALL the family, not just those you THINK should be in the family. This is the time to put all your pettiness aside and band together.

    This shouldn’t turn into a debate about polotics, religion, who hates who, who is to blame or any of that stupidity. This is a time for morning, and grief. Please, for the sake of ALL his family, put aside your anger, and let him rest in piece. It’s what Kevin would want.

    Remember, he may have been stuck with the parents and siblings he had, but he CHOOSE his wife, If you actually take the time to think about it, that says alot.

    I hope you can rest in piece Kevin, your never more than a thought away from our hearts and prayers.

  15. ArmyGuyWhoKnows says:

    Being an Army guy you can take this from someone who knows. They ask you where you want to be buried for your will, so you know exactly what you are doing. If Kevin didn’t say where he wanted to be buried then that means straight up he wanted his wife to decide. Plain and simple. We Army guys are not stupid don’t make us out to be, we know what we are doing when we leave someone in charge.

    What is sad is all those coming out of the woodwork and spreading lies and information via third parties. People should mind their own business and keep their mouth shut if they have anything besides positive thoughts to give because Mrs. Graham and Kevin’s family need them right now. I really hope if this ever happens to me when I am deployed I don’t have all these random people that barely knew me judging my wife and her decisions and disgracing my memory.

    Oh yeah and for God’s sake use spell check so my eyes are not grammar raped by your lack of education.

  16. grahamswife says:

    Just to comment back on what grahamsfamily friend said first of all she is not a friend of the family she is a nosey neighbor that use to live next to me and Kevin. I love my husband more than anything also I never said that his parents couldn’t come. Also anyone that really knows Kevin and me they know how much we loved each. So when you say please help this family. You want to be involved in drama cause that is what you like. But this is just wrong calling Kevin’s family and lying about me it’s wrong this man deserves to be honored and he would not want nor let anyone do this to me. So Please stay out of my business I love him more than anything. Hurting me will not stop me from doing what I know is right. My love for him was greater than an other love. I am a true army wife

    KRYSTAL GRAHAM

  17. marinemajor says:

    I am a Patriot Guard Rider in Centex. I was honored to stand for SFC Sawyer when he was laid to rest at Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery. I will, also, be honored to stand for SPC Graham. We all owe him nothing but honor in this trying time. Be strong Krystal.

  18. daltonstoute says:

    As spc grahams roommate and real close friend i want to say he was one of the most kindest, funniest, humble, and just plain awesome guy i have ever met. Me and graham where really close. I left to go on leave 2 days after his death. Krystal Graham, he loved you so much. He talked about you everyday and exspecially when brian started calling him dad :)). He would say” stoute, when we get out of here, im going to hawaii and krystal and brian are going to love it”. We talked about alot of things lol. We always talked about when we both got out that we would race our hotrods, fast cars, against each other. He taught me alot. I remember so much about him, exspecially when he would come meet me at the bar, only b/c i was to drunk to drive haha, but he never complained. Anything i needed graham would be there. I was grahams best man at his wedding an i was so nervous but being in that position meant more to me then anything. I’ll never forget you graham and i promise i’ll finish building the small block 400 for the S10 and my first pass down the drag strip ima dedecate it to you brother, oh and i promise not to put the nitrous on it b/c you told me that a real hotrod dont need it its all in the motor and the driver hahaha. I love you so much graham your my brother and my friend. To all his family and friends he was a awesome guy, and i enjoyed my time serving with him

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