WESTFIELD, NY (WKBW) -- Residents in the small town of Westfield in Chautauqua County, are mourning the loss of one of their own. 22 year old United States Army Sergeant Kevin White was killed by an IED explosion while on patrol in northern Afghanistan May 2nd..
White grew up in Westfield, graduated from Westfield High School in 2006, and spent a lot of time at his church, First Baptist Church. The pastor says White enjoyed playing soccer and fishing as a kid, but really loved spending time with his youth group and two brothers. "As his pastor...known him all his life, I baptized him, we've watched him grow up," Pastor Thayne Bodenmiller, of First Baptist Church, said. "Kind of kid that his family, his church, community, and his country can be proud of. For us, this is the first time it's hit so close to home so it will definitely impact our whole community."
"It's heartbreaking, it will bring you to tears," Joe Leone, the owner of Cj's Pizza in Westfield, said. "His brother and parents come here all the time. We are going to do something special for the family."
After graduating from high school and joining the U.S. Army, White completed a year of service in Iraq. In March he decided to go back into combat, this time to Afghanistan. "The courage he had enlisting, intending to go into combat, facing the dangers he did, then re-enlisting," Pastor Bodenmiller said. "He had had some close brushes with death when he was in Iraq. We were hoping he would be finished but he signed back up knowing he would probably be sent to Afghanistan."
The pastor says he got to see White in late March, a week before he was deployed to Afghanistan. "We went out to his favorite restaurant together," Pastor Bodenmiller said. "He knew where we was going...he knew it was northern Afghanistan right up by the (Pakistan) border, so he knew the danger that was there...he wanted us to thank the church for all their prayers and ask them to keep praying."
Sgt. Kevin White was killed just a day after the news came out that Osama bin Laden was killed. "In some of Kevin's e-mails, that he knew things were just going to get worse and not better," Pastor Bodenmiller said.
The Department of Defense released more information. He was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, and died in Kunar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
White's parents and two brothers flew to Dover Air Force Base to receive his remains back home to the United States. Sgt. White was laid to rest Friday with hundreds of family, friends, and Freedom Riders in attendance.