Amherst Family Back In WNY After Receiving Fallen Soldier's Remains

November 9, 2010 Updated Nov 9, 2010 at 7:30 AM EDT

By Jennifer Stanonis

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November 9, 2010 Updated Nov 9, 2010 at 7:30 AM EDT

AMHERST, NY (WKBW) -- 21 year old Army Specialist Blake Whipple, of Amherst, made his family extremely proud. "Developed into a very brave soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country and family," his father David Whipple said.

It was Friday when Whipple's family was notified he had been killed while serving in Afghanistan after an IED exploded. "He always called me pops. Even today in those quiet times, I still hear my son say I love you pops, and that's what I'll always remember," Blake's dad said.

"Just the times we had together and just a brother's bond," Blake's older brother Sean Whipple said. "Feel fortunate enough to have two of them."

"He was always proud of what he did and... if he wanted to do something he was gonna do it," Blake's brother Brian Clyburn said.

Blake graduated from Williamsville East High School in 2007. After that he spent some time taking college classes locally, but then decided to enlist in the U.S. Army in April of 2009. Soon after, Specialist Blake Whipple was deployed to Afghanistan. He had been there since this past May. "Blake was a combat engineer, his primary job was to identify and dispose of the IED's that are throughout the country," David Whipple said.

Besides a quick trip back home in September for his 21st birthday, the family has only been able to see him on the computer through Skype. The last time they talked to him was just a few days before they were notified Blake had been killed. "Asked how he's doing, he did say things were getting a little dicey, that he had moved and the area he had moved to was a bit more active," David Whipple said.

Less than a week later, Blake's family received his remains at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, from Germany. "For me I felt a great sense of respect for what my little brother has done," Sean Whipple said. "And what soldiers do and what they continue to do and what the families go through."

"While the pain is overwhelming from time to time, the pride helps with that and I know I'm going to get to the next day," David Whipple said. "Because the pride I feel for my son, the service he gave to the U.S. Army, to the United States, and our family."

Blake's family members are planning funeral arrangements for him, which are expected to be held at the Amigone Funeral Home on Sheridan Drive in Williamsville. Those services could take place later this week, possibly in time for Veterans Day, but it may take longer than that to get Blake's remains back to Western New York.