MANASSAS, VA, USA U.S. Army SPC, CO A, 3D BN, 116TH INF, 1ST BDE, 29TH ID, (TF NORMANDY), MANASSAS, VA ZABUL, AFGHANISTAN 05/23/2005
A Chilton native who joined the Army National Guard after high school graduation three years ago has died while serving in Afghanistan. The Defense Department said Tuesday that Private First Class Kyle M. Hemauer, 21, died Monday from non-combat injuries as he was serving in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division, based in Manassas, Va.
Jason Schneider, funeral director with Wieting, said Kyle Hemauer was born in Chilton and graduated from Chilton High School in 2002. He had been in the military just under three years, he said.
The family received word Monday afternoon that Kyle died earlier that day, Schneider said. He said he was acquainted with Kyle Hemauer because the Hemauer home is on property adjacent to the funeral home, “so we kind of share a lot with Mom and Dad.”
The death came as a shock to the people of Chilton, a city of some 3,800 in east central Wisconsin’s Calumet County. The city has had no previous military deaths since U.S. forces became involved in Afghanistan and Iraq after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Schneider said.
Hemauer won all-conference honors as a senior punter for the Chilton football team.
“He was a real good kid who worked real hard. He will definitely be missed,” said Grant Mortimer, a neighbor who had worked with Kyle at a local company, Horst Distributors.
“I feel so proud of him for serving our country,” Mortimer said. “I was shocked to learn of his death. Every day you hear on the news about someone getting killed in the war, but you never think it will hit home.”
Major General Claude A. Williams, Virginia’s adjutant general, said Hemauer’s family and loved ones will be the “first priority” for the Virginia National Guard.
“Private First Class Hemauer answered his country’s call to arms in the highest tradition of the citizen soldier,” Williams said in a release from the Virginia National Guard. “We will insure that what he did for his country is not forgotten.”
Chilton residents turned out to mourn the loss of a local soldier whose death in Afghanistan from non-combat injuries has shaken the Calumet County community.
“Everybody is upset,” said Floyd Wayne Silas, who owns Littlewind’s Uptown Cafe with his wife, Estelle. “Number one, they are upset about his death and everyone feels it. We didn’t know him, but I am proud of him just as if I did know him.”
Paul Hugo was Hemauer’s confirmation teacher and remembers him as a quiet, very intelligent person who knew his religious faith well.
“He didn’t always volunteer when I asked questions, but every time I called on him, he knew the answer,” he said.
As the closing hymn, “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” echoed from the church before Hemauer’s burial with military honors at the parish cemetery, Hugo said belief in God was the only way to get through such a tragedy.
“The area has lost a wonderful person,” he said. “They will never be able to replace him. I am sure he is up there looking down on us right now. I’m convinced he had a very deep faith.”