MADILL, OK, USA U.S. Army SFC, COMPANY A, 2D BATTALION, 7TH SPECIAL FORCES GROUP, FORT BRAGG, NC KUZKALAKHEL, AFGHANISTAN 08/12/2007
The official Army report says he was from Oklahoma, but Sergeant First Class Class Jeffrey Kettle’s father begs to differ.
“They have him listed as Madill, Oklahoma, which is only where he enlisted and lived for a short while,” Ronnie Kettle said in an e-mail Tuesday while traveling overseas. “He is a product of Texas City … and hundreds of people know and love him there, so I wanted to set the record straight.”
Jeffrey Kettle, two weeks from his 31st birthday, died Sunday after the vehicle he was in struck an improvised bomb in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. Also killed were Sergeant Charles B. Kitowski, 31, of Farmers Branch, and Staff Sergeant Jesse G. Clowers Jr., 27, of Herndon, Virginia.
Jeffrey Kettle was born and raised here and attended Texas City schools for all but his senior year of high school, Ronnie Kettle said. He was a construction and demolition engineer assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, based in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
In 2003, Kettle received a Bronze Star during his first tour of duty in Afghanistan after uncovering a major weapons cache, Ronnie Kettle said.
Jeffrey Kettle began playing soccer at age 5 and continued playing through high school and during his military career in Saudi Arabia, Italy, Germany, Hawaii and Japan. He also played baseball in Texas City.
“He wore his uniform proud and did his job beyond well.” Ronnie Kettle said.
Among his immediate family, Jeffrey Kettle is survived by his mother, Cindy Kettle; wife, Brandi; sons Donovan, 12, and Logan, 1; brother Clayton Kettle, now in his 14th year of military service and deployed in Iraq; and brother Ryan Kettle of Fort Worth.
The funeral for Kettle, an Army Special Forces member killed in Afghanistan, took place in a section of the famed military cemetery at Arlington, Virginia that is increasingly filled with the graves of soldiers killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Secretary of the Army Pete Geren, the former congressman from Fort Worth, knelt in front of Kettle family members Wednesday to express his condolences. Kettle’s father said his son, 31, wished to be at Arlington because “he wanted to be buried among heroes.”
“Jeff was the ultimate warrior,” said Ronald Kettle, noting his son joined the Army in 1993 right after graduating from high school, where he was always competitive in sports.
“Every game was a battle to him,” he said.
In the brief ceremony on a hazy afternoon, relatives including Kettle’s parents, Cynthia and Ronald of League City, and his wife, Brandi, of Raeford, North Carolina, recited the Lord’s Prayer and consoled each other. His two brothers, Ryan and Clay, a medic in Iraq, attended the ceremony as did the late soldier’s two sons, Donovan and Logan, and grandmother, Anne Moore. The last time he talked to his son, Ronald Kettle said, was in late June after Houston Astro Craig Biggio notched his 3,000th base hit — a topic that interested Jeff because he had played baseball. Kettle said after their conversation he sent his son a “Biggio 3000” T-shirt.