CHESAPEAKE (CITY), VA, USA
LCPL, 1ST BN 6TH MAR, (RCT 7, MEB-A FWD) 2D MAR DIV, CAMP LEJEUNE, NC
HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN 02/18/2010
A brisk wind filled the American and the Marine Corps flags as the Campbell family walked arm in arm, following their son and brother’s caisson to Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday. Marine Lance Corproal Kielin T. Dunn, 19, of Chesapeake, Virginia, was buried with full military honors. Dunn died Feb. 18 while supporting combat operations in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. Dunn had wanted to be a Marine since fifth grade, said his mother, Terri Campbell, a retired Army vehicle mechanic. “For him, there was no other branch,” she told The Washington Post.
He was so dedicated that he joined the JROTC at Western Branch High School to ensure an advanced rank once he completed boot camp. He took extra courses to graduate early in August 2008, and he immediately joined the corps. He was deployed to Afghanistan in December 2009.
“It wasn’t easy by any means. When you are driven and have a goal in mind, you do what it takes to get there,” said retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Michael Kloskin, senior JROTC adviser at Western Branch. After Dunn completed boot camp, he came back in his dress blues to visit the cadets.
“He wasn’t a real tall individual, [but] if you want to call it pride, he stood seven feet tall. He was gleaming all over because he was now a Marine,” Kloskin said. “It really made a difference.”
Dunn’s friends described him as energetic, caring and a great break dancer. Kelsey Stillwagen, 19, a JROTC cadet with Dunn, said he was always laughing and jumping around.
“He was a big goofball, but deep down he had a heart of gold,” Stillwagen said. “He would go out of his way to help his friends and his family.”
Dunn is the first member of the Western Branch JROTC to die in combat since the program began in 1972. A memorial scholarship has been set up in Dunn’s name to assist cadets planning to attend a four-year college.
Karri Jackson described Dunn as her son’s very best friend. Her son, Lance Corporal Tyler L. Jackson, went through boot camp and training with Dunn and was in Afghanistan with him.
“He is heartbroken,” Jackson said. “We have all just been heartbroken over it. He was like a part of the family.”
Calvert W. Campbell, a retired member of the Air Force and Dunn’s step-grandfather, said he admired his grandson for making the decision to serve his country.
“Sometimes these things are ignored and put off on the side, but I hope he gets every honor and everything that is due him,” Campbell said.
In Arlington, shortly after three rifle volleys were fired, Terri Campbell and her husband, Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Gary Campbell, stood and saluted Dunn’s casket as a bugler played taps. Dunn’s younger siblings, Jonathan and Nicole, stood at attention between their parents.
Dunn was a member of the 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade. He was awarded the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and NATO International Security Assistance Force Medal.