FAIRCHILD, WI, USA U.S. Army SPC, COMPANY C, 1ST BATTALION, 128TH INFANTRY, ARCADIA, WI BAGHDAD, IRAQ 06/26/2005
A 20-year-old Army specialist who believed his work in Iraq was helping children there was killed in Baghdad after a roadside bomb exploded near his Humvee, his family said Monday.
Specialist Charles A. Kaufman, of Fairchild, died Sunday, according to the Department of Defense. He was assigned to the Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry in Eau Claire. His father, mother and sister, Mark, Celeste and Samantha Kaufman, said in a statement that Kaufman was gentle and kind to children.
“He told us that that when he saw the children in Iraq, and saw how they lived and what they had to deal with, it made it all worthwhile,” the family said.
He and his cousin, Kelly Kaufman, went to Iraq together, serving in the same unit. They were born two weeks apart and were like brothers, the statement said. The two were determined to go to Iraq together. After they were mobilized but before they were deployed, Charles Kaufman fell 15 feet from a tree while hunting. He broke a few ribs, punctured a lung and lost his spleen. But after a month, he joined his unit in Iraq.
“His injuries could have kept him safe at home, but Charles insisted on going with his cousin,” the statement said.
The family also described him as a go-getter who loved anything he could drive. He didn’t need training wheels on his first bike and rode the riding mower at age seven. He also loved driving trucks, tractors, boats, ATVs and motorcycles, and was driving the Humvee when he died.
The family said Kaufman also enjoyed playing pool, fishing and hunting. He even quit a job once to hunt on opening day, the family said.
He was named for his 82-year-old grandfather, who died last week.
That funeral was held Saturday, said Maureen Anderson, the owner of Anderson Funeral Home in Augusta. The family wanted Kaufman and his cousin to come home to be pallbearers but they were unable to get away, Anderson said. She described the family as strong Catholics.
“They have their faith, fortunately, that will pull them through it,” she said. “It’s still hard.”
The family said they are big and close and feel empty now.
“We loved him and will miss him more than we can tell you,” the statement said.