The mother of Hansen Kirkpatrick, a 19-year-old U.S. soldier from Alaska who is the latest American casualty in Afghanistan, urged people to “make a difference” in her son’s memory in an emotional post on July 4.
In the poignant Facebook post on American Independence Day, Anngel Norkist wrote in part, “Please seriously stop! Take a moment. Realize that real actual blood dropped on a battlefield for YOU.” You can read her moving post in full below.
The DOD said in a news release that Kirkpatrick, who was from Wasilla, Alaska, died on July 3 in support of Operation Freedom Sentinel.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Kirkpatrick’s Mother Says the Red in the American Flag Symbolizes the Blood of Her Son & Others
Kirkpatrick’s mother urged mourners to “go make a difference” in her son’s name, instead of telling her they are sorry.
She wrote on Facebook on American Independence Day:
Please seriously stop! Take a moment. Realize that real actual blood dropped on a battlefield for YOU. That’s what the red symbolizes on our flag. My son just died today July 3rd over on some nasty dry battlefield in a far off land. His life was cut short at only 19. Stop and really give thanks for all those who gave and continue to give us our freedoms we so easily take for freakin granted. NO! Do not comment and say how sorry you are! I don’t care!! Actions speak louder than words, so GO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
Kirkpatrick was also remembered by fellow service members. One recalled “the loving storytelling awesome character he was. We will miss you Hansen Kirkpatrick. I will never forget the late night stories at Fort Benning and the Alaskan tales we always heard from you.”
2. Kirkpatrick Was Killed During ‘Indirect Fire’
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, Pfc. Hansen B. Kirkpatrick, 19, of Wasilla, Alaska, “died July 3, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, from wounds received during an indirect fire attack.”
The DOD added: “The incident is under investigation.”
Kirkpatrick was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas, according to the Department of Defense. As of July 5, the U.S. military had not yet released further details of Kirkpatrick’s death.
Two other soldiers were also wounded in the same attack but are not suffering life-threatening injuries, according to The Army Times.
3. Kirkpatrick Was Remembered as ‘Caring’ & ‘Disciplined’
The young soldier’s virtues were praised by his commanding officer.
PFC Hansen Kirkpatrick” served honorably as a mortarman in 1-36 Infantry, the Spartans,” said Maj. James C. Bithorn, executive officer, Stryker Brigade Combat Team. “He was a caring, disciplined, and intelligent young Soldier who daily lived the Spartan motto of ‘Deeds Not Words.’”
Bithorn added: “His service in the battalion spanned just over 12 months – a period of intense operational tempo – that culminated in a deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel/Resolute Support. He will be missed greatly by his fellow Soldiers and leaders alike.”
A fellow soldier wrote on Facebook: “Hardest day of my life but I’m living for both of us now brother.”
4. Kirkpatrick Was From Anchorage, Alaska & Remembered as a Mentor
Although the military says that Kirkpatrick was from Wasilla, Alaska (Sarah Palin’s hometown if it sounds familiar), Kirkpatrick’s Facebook page says he was from Anchorage.
He wrote on Facebook that he joined the U.S. Army in June 2016 and graduated from Service High School. A friend from Anchorage wrote on Facebook, “I lost a great mentor and a good friend today. His name is Hansen Kirkpatrick. I will show my appreciation to you for serving our country. Rest in peace my brother. I’ll keep your loved ones in my prayers. 🙁” He added that he was the same age, 19, as Kirkpatrick.
5. There Has Been a Surge of Violence in the Province Where Kirkpatrick Died & He’s the Seventh U.S. Service Member to Die in Afghanistan This Year
Kirkpatrick is the seventh U.S. service member to die in Afghanistan in 2017, according to The Army Times.
According to CNN, “There has been fierce fighting in Helmand where Afghan security forces have been locked in constant clashes with Taliban insurgents, who have managed to reestablish a significant presence in the area.” The New York Times reported that the first six U.S. deaths occurred in the fight against ISIS.
The cable network reported that several hundred Marines have been sent to the area to assist Afghan soldiers and police, and added, that American and coalition casualties have fallen dramatically since 2014.
However, “there’s been an uptick in violence in recent months,” CNN reported, noting that five U.S. service members have been killed since April.
According to The New York Times, “the first American killed in Afghanistan this year, Staff Sgt. Mark R. De Alencar, 37, of Edgewood, Md.” The next service members to die in Afghanistan for the United States were Sgt. Joshua P. Rodgers, 22, of Bloomington, Ill., and Sgt. Cameron H. Thomas, 23, of Kettering, Ohio.
Sgt. Eric M. Houck, 25, of Baltimore, Maryland; Sgt. William M. Bays, 29, of Barstow, California; and Corporal Dillon C. Baldridge, 22, of Youngsville, North Carolina were killed by an Afghan police officer. You can read more about them here: