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Jason A Karella


Sometimes a person can cheat death once, but not twice. Marine Corps Corporal Jason Anthony Karella, age 20, from Anchorage, Alaska, cheated death in September 2008 while deployed in Afghanistan. A man shot him twice with an AK-47 from the driver’s side of a nearby car, but his body armor saved his life.

But when death came calling the second time, Corporal Karella could not avoid it. On October 9, 2008, Karella, a tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided antitank missile gunner, was killed when his Humvee rolled over while he was in the gun turret, according to the Naval Safety Center. “He was the vehicle commander, [and had] the best seat on the armored Humvee,” said Corporal Karella’s father, Kevin Karella, an Army veteran who flew helicopters in Desert Storm. “But the guy up in the turret wasn’t feeling good, and so he gave up his seat … and he climbed up in the turret. And had he not been in the turret, he would have not been killed,” his father told an NBC news affiliate in Alaska.

Jason came from a family of soldiers. Six of his cousins went overseas. His older brother, Josh, was an Army Special Forces medic who was medically discharged after a rocket-propelled grenade struck his Humvee in Iraq in 2005.

Born Oct. 25, 1987, in Fairbanks, Jason moved to Anchorage in 1998. He attended Bartlett High School and graduated through the Alaska Military Youth Academy Challenge Program. The academy is 22 weeks of intense schooling that is based on military values. Jason joined to ready himself for the Marines, his father said.

His team leader and mentor at the academy — a Vietnam vet and former Marine named Cliff Parker — still has cadet Karella’s name tag tucked in a drawer at home. Jason earned the highest leadership rank a cadet can achieve at the school, Parker said. “He was pretty much a go-getter from jump street.”

Jason enjoyed playing hockey in his youth, as well as snowboarding and snow-machining throughout Alaska. An avid outdoorsman, Jason loved camping, hunting and fishing. When he was 16, Jason made the decision to join the Marines, completing boot camp at MCRD in San Diego, and was stationed at Twentynine Palms in California.

Corporal Karella completed a tour in Iraq in 2007. He was due to come home from Afghanistan in November 2008 and was waiting for the paperwork to be completed for his promotion to sergeant.

In addition to his father, Jason is survived by his and step-mother, Dawn-Marie; mother, Anne-Marie Kitchens and step-father, Bill Anklewich; brothers, Josh and Jesse Karella; grandparents, Bob and Barbara Kitchens, and Rosemary Karella; as well as numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.


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