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HomeThe 907PFC Hansen Kirkpatrick: Barely old enough to vote, and he is gone

PFC Hansen Kirkpatrick: Barely old enough to vote, and he is gone

PFC Hansen Kirkpatrick and his mom, from her Facebook page. 
Somewhere in Wasilla, Alaska, there are a mom and dad whose brave son went off to war in January and will return in a flag-draped casket in July. Tonight, their hearts are broken as they leave Alaska to be present when their son’s remains return to the U.S.
PFC Hansen Kirkpatrick was the seventh U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan this year, in the war against terrorism that seems to never end. U.S. troops have rotated through the war-torn country for the past 15 years and nearly 1,000 Americans and British military personnel have died in this region.

Kirkpatrick was killed late Monday while fighting the Taliban alongside Afghanistan forces in  Helmand Province, Pentagon officials said. Helmand is a particularly restive area of Southern Afghanistan.

Kirkpatrick appears to be the first American soldier to die in the province this year. He was hit by indirect mortar attack; typically that involves exploding shells or rocket rounds.

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Two other soldiers were injured in the attack during the operation, said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, who said the injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.

Kirkpatrick was with the Fort Bliss-based 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division. He was a mortarman who joined in June, 2016, according to Army Maj. James C. Bithorn, an officer with the 1st Armored Division’s 1st Brigade. He described Kirkpatrick as “a caring, disciplined, and intelligent young soldier.”

One person he served with wrote on Facebook that Kirkpatrick was a great storyteller who used to regale his fellow soldiers with tales from Alaska. Kirkpatrick had attended a high school named for a master storyteller: Robert Service High School in Anchorage.

After graduation, Kirkpatrick enlisted, and he and 1,500 other soldiers deployed to Afghanistan in January to serve in nine-month rotations. The brigade’s soldiers embed in various regions, some working alongside U.S. Marines and Afghan forces fighting the Taliban and its most strident wing, ISIS, or the Islamic State.

The area has seen heavy fighting in recent weeks as Taliban forces have pushed for control of an area of intense opium poppy production, which is a major source of funding for the Taliban and is a primary supply of opium for the global trade.

“We will keep [Kirkpatrick’s] family in our thoughts and prayers as we reflect on the sacrifice he and others have made to secure our freedoms and help make Afghanistan a better place,” Army Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said in a prepared statement.

For the parents and siblings of PFC Hansen Kirkpatrick, the Fourth of July will not be the same next year or the years that follow. This family became a Gold Star family on July 3, 2017, a sad designation, a somber honor that reminds us of their sacrifice for our nation.

Our hearts go out to the family, friends, and fellow soldiers of PFC Hansen Kirkpatrick.

Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.


  1. Suzanne, Thanks for the warm comments on one of our soldiers who gave all for his Country. May God keep him and his family close.

  2. It’s a shame we still have to be loosing good people in this useless conflict. RIP Hansen..

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