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Chad Lynn Keith
Sergeant, United States Army
Indiana State Flag
NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
No. 493-03
IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 08, 2003
(703) 697-5131(media)
(703) 428-0711(public/industry)

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Spcecialist Chad L. Keith, 21, Batesville, Indiana, was killed on July 7, 2003, in Baghdad, Iraq. Keith was on mounted patrol when his vehicle drove past an object that exploded on the side of the road. Keith was assigned to the 2-325th Infantry, Company D, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. 

Chad Keith PHOTO



August 2, 2003

An Indiana soldier killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on the same day he was to be promoted to Sergeant from Specialist.

Friends and relatives remembered U.S. Army Sergeant Chad Keith, 21, of Batesville on Friday as a humble man who lived his life one day at a time.

The 2000 Batesville High School graduate, who was killed July 7, 2003, in Baghdad, was awarded the rank of sergeant posthumously.

An awning protected about 30 mourners, including Keith's parents, two sisters and brother and other relatives and friends, from light rain during the 25-minute ceremony.

Keith, who was a member of Company D, 2nd Battalion of the 325th Infantry, 82nd Airborne, based in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, was the 11th Indiana soldier killed since the United States and its allies invaded Iraq.

Rob Ehrich, legislative assistant to Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, presented Keith's family with a copy of the Congressional Record statement honoring the gunner.

"While we struggle to bear our sorrow over his death, we can also take pride in the example he set, bravely fighting to make the world a safer place," that statement read in part.

After the 18 or so military members departed, Keith's family lingered, several touching his casket in a final farewell.

He was the 24th service member who died fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom to be buried at Arlington, according to Kerry Sullivan of the cemetery's public affairs office.

The cemetery is the final resting place of more than 285,000 individuals.

A memorial service was held for Keith on July 17 at St. John United Church of Christ in Batesville.


Always the First in Line for Adventure
Family Struggles To Part With A Daring Soldier 
By Annie Gowen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 2, 2003

He always said he would become president someday. In fact, when Army paratrooper Chad L. Keith met George W. Bush last year at a rally for troops at Fort Bragg, Keith had the chutzpah to grip the president's hand and say, "I'm going to be you someday, sir."

Keith did make it to Washington, not as the successful politician he envisioned, but as a war hero who gave his life for his country. The 21-year-old was manning a machine gun atop a Humvee on night patrol July 7, 2003, in Baghdad when a roadside bomb exploded. He was thrown from the vehicle and suffered a fatal head wound.

Yesterday, the all-American boy from Batesville, Indiana, (population 6,000) was eulogized as an "all-American soldier" during services at Arlington National Cemetery. He was the 24th casualty from the war in Iraq to be buried at Arlington.

"We are devastated," said his mother, Kimberly Hitzges, 43, who bent her head and sobbed as an Army bugler standing among the gravestones sounded taps. After the service, Keith's three siblings had difficulty tearing themselves away, the soldier's brother, Alex, 13, giving the silver casket a goodbye pat.

Friends and family remembered Keith as a self-directed young man with an artistic side, who filled countless sketch pads with drawings of tiny birds and mountain landscapes, but who was always the first to volunteer for any bit of excitement that might offer itself.

Adventure is rare in Batesville, a speck of a farming town 40 miles northwest of Cincinnati. When Keith went off to war, his family flew a banner with a blue star at its home on West Pearl Street, just as earlier generations did when their children went off to fight. Now the star hanging there is gold.

Keith's interest in the military began at an early age, his mother recalled, spurred in part by an uncle and a grandfather who were veterans. He enlisted in the Army before his May 2000 high school graduation.

Shortly before leaving for boot camp in Georgia, he attended a Christian youth camp in the Catskills, where he was just as ready for a quiet talk with his youth minister as he was to slog through the mud on the camp's obstacle course.

"He was in the lead vehicle when he was killed, and I thought that was very fitting for Chad," said Melvin Smith, 29, his youth minister. "He was always the first in line for any sort of adventure. . . . I've never seen anyone more excited about joining the Army." 

His mother concurred. "He always wanted to go into the military and then he was going to be president," she recalled. "He was very serious. He had his goals all laid out."

Keith, a sergeant with Company D, Second Battalion, 325th Infantry, was deployed from Fort Bragg, N.C., on March 17. 

When his son's unit was sent overseas, "they all said they were ready to go and kick ass," said Mark Hitzges, 44, a construction supervisor. "They were tired of being on alert and then being stood down. He was perfectly confident in his training. He said, 'You don't need to worry about anything. We're doing to do our job and go home.' " 

Whenever Keith managed to call or write from Iraq, he never spoke of death or carnage. Instead, he told of an Iraqi child who reminded him of his 3-year-old niece, Tasia; he befriended the girl and slipped her his MREs (meals ready to eat), and he asked his family to send more portable chocolate puddings and coffee in the care packages.

Hitzges last heard from her son a few days before his death, when he made a brief telephone call to let them know he was all right. "He seemed tired, but kept telling us, 'It's not that bad,' " she recalled. "He didn't want us worrying about him. He wanted to focus on what he had to do."

His parents were in Tennessee, visiting relatives, when they got the news. 

"Sometimes we think of the happy memories," said Kimberly Hitzges.

"Overall, it's still really hard. We're proud he's . . . buried in Arlington. That's what he wanted. But this is the final thing. It makes it harder."

CL Keith Funeral PHOTO
Ron Creech, brother-in-law of Army Sgt. Chad L. Keith, kisses the casket as Nicole Hitzges, Keith's half-sister, stands nearby after the funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. Keith was killed by a bomb July 7 in Iraq. 
    Photograph (c) The Washington Post By: Rich Lipski, Reprinted With Permission

CL Keith Funeral PHOTO
The casket of U.S. Army Sergeant Chad Keith, from Batesville, Indiana, is 
carried to its final resting place during his standard honors funeral at Arlington 
National Cemetery, August 1, 2003.

CL Keith Funeral PHOTO
Family members of Army Spc. Chad Keith attend funeral services, 
Friday, August 1, 2003, at Arlington National Cemetery

CL Keith Funeral PHOTO
The family of U.S. Army Sergeant Chad Keith, from Batesville, Indiana, l
isten to the playing of taps at his standard honors funeral at 
Arlington National Cemetery, August 1, 2003

CL Keith Funeral PHOTO
Kim Hitzges, center, mother of Army Spc. Chad Keith and her husband
Mark Hitzges cry during funeral services for Sgt. Keith, Friday, 
August 1, 2003, at Arlington National Cemetery

CL Keith Funeral Photo
The flag from the coffin of U.S. Army Sergeant Chad Keith, from
Batesville, Indiana, is presented to his mother Kim Hitzges and other members 
of his family during his standard honors funeral at Arlington National 
Cemetery, August 1, 2003

CL Keith Funeral PHOTO
Kim Hitzges, left, mother of Army Spc. Chad Keith is comforted by her husband 
Mark Hitzges as they attend funeral services for Keith, Friday, August 1, 2003, 
at Arlington National Cemetery.

CL Keith Funeral PHOTO
Family members Alex Hitzges (L) and Ron Creech (C) stand next to the 
casket of U.S. Army Sergeant Chad Keith, from Batesville, Indiana,
as Nichole Hitzges is comforted by an unidentifed soldier during Keith's standard
honors funeral at Arlington National Cemetery, August 1, 2003.

CL Keith Funeral PHOTO
Stepsister Nichole Hitzges is comforted by an unidentifed
soldier during the funeral for U.S. Army Sergeant Chad Keith, from 
Batesville, Indiana, at Arlington National Cemetery, August 1, 2003.

Photos Courtesy of Reuters News Agency


July 17, 2003 10:29 PM

BATESVILLE, INDIANA - Friends and relatives remembered an Indiana soldier killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq as a down-to-earth man who lived his life one day at a time.

Sergeant Chad Keith "was a guy who was full of life. You could feel it bubbling out of him," youth pastor Ozzie Smith told about 125 mourners during a memorial service Thursday at St. Johns United Church of Christ in Batesville, a city of 6,000 about 40 miles northwest of Cincinnati.

"He was always smiling ... always the first in line for an adventure ... Chad lived in the moment .... He enjoyed the journey even when he was focused on future goals," he said.

Keith's closest family and friends sat just off to the side of the flag-draped casket. He will be buried with full military honors August 1, 2003, at Arlington National Cemetery.

The 21-year-old became the 143rd American slain by hostile fire in Iraq when a bomb exploded Monday as his unit patrolled the streets of Baghdad.

A series of photos was projected onto a screen during the service, including pictures of Keith in military garb as a preschooler. Friends have said Keith had planned to make a career in the Army, following in the footsteps of other men in his family.

"Chad was a one-in-a.m.illion type of guy," said his close friend, Michelle Cullen.



Sergeant Chad Keith "was a guy who was full of life. You could feel it bubbling out of him," youth pastor Ozzie Smith told about 125 mourners during a memorial service Thursday at St. Johns United Church of Christ in Batesville, a city of 6,000 about 40 miles northwest of Cincinnati.

"He was always smiling ... always the first in line for an adventure ... Chad lived in the moment .... He enjoyed the journey even when he was focused on future goals," he said.

Keith's closest family and friends sat just off to the side of the flag-draped casket. He will be buried with full military honors August 1, 2003 at Arlington National Cemetery.

The 21-year-old became the 143rd American slain by hostile fire in Iraq when a bomb exploded Monday as his unit patrolled the streets of Baghdad.

A series of photos was projected onto a screen during the service, including pictures of Keith in military garb as a preschooler. Friends have said Keith had planned to make a career in the Army, following in the footsteps of other men in his family.

"Chad was a one-in-a-million type of guy," said his close friend, Michelle Cullen.

Chad Keith had planned to make a career in the Army and to follow in the footsteps of other men in his family who had worn military uniforms.

But a roadside bomb cut short Keith's fledgling career and left friends and family grieving throughout this southeastern Indiana town.

Keith, 21, became the 143rd American slain by hostile fire in Iraq when the bomb exploded Monday as his unit patrolled the streets of Baghdad.

Keith's best friend, James Christian, a Sergeant from California who met Keith three years ago at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, witnessed the explosion from a vehicle following Keith's.

"James is bringing Chad home to be buried, then he's going back ... He's taking it personal now," said his brother-in-law, Ron Creech, who lives near Batesville, where Keith lived before joining the military in 2000.

Keith likely will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Creech said.

Keith's death came just 26 days before he was to be promoted from specialist to sergeant and a few days after he spoke to his mother by telephone. Kim Hitzges said her son told her he was hot and tired but willing to stay in Iraq "until the job was done."

On Wednesday, news of Keith's death was beginning to spread through Batesville, a city of 6,000 about 40 miles northwest of Cincinnati.

Still hanging on the front door of Keith's family home was a blue star banner, a symbol that a household member was serving in the military. It had not yet been replaced with the traditional gold star to signify his death.

Inside the YMCA, a close friend, Kirt Collier, 22, was trying to concentrate on supervising a group of kids despite grieving over Keith.

"I'm proud that he did serve, but it's so sad for someone to be gone at 21," said Collier, who threw a party at his apartment to welcome Keith home for a visit earlier this year. "I understand why he went over there. It was something he was passionate about ... I just wish he was still here."

Jim Roberts, the assistant superintendent of Batesville schools who was high school principal when Keith graduated in 2000, said, "The war has hit very close to home" because of Keith's death.

Roberts remembers seeing Keith talking with Army recruiters in the school cafeteria. Collier said friends could hardly tear Keith away from the recruiters.

"Most people join the Army because they want money for college or something, but he was really happy to be in the Army. He wanted it to be his career," Collier said.

Keith was a gunner with Company D, 2-325th Infantry, based at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Keith was following in the footsteps of other male family members when he joined the Army right after high school, Creech said.

He said Keith was especially eager to serve after the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

Laura Creech, whose son is married to Keith's sister, said the young soldier's 3-year-old niece idolized him. A picture of Keith on the family's refrigerator shows him in his uniform with an American flag in the background. The little girl would show people the picture and say: "That's my Uncle Chad; he is America."

KEITH, CHAD LYNN 
SGT   US ARMY
IRAQ
DATE OF BIRTH: 11/19/1981
DATE OF DEATH: 07/07/2003
BURIED AT: SECTION 60  SITE 7884
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

Webmaster: Michael Robert Patterson

CL Keith Valentine's Day 2006 PHOTO
 Courtesy of Barbara McGlynn, Valentines's Day February 2006

Webmaster: Michael Robert Patterson


Posted:13 July 2003  Updated: 2 August 2003 Updated: 3 May 2004 Updated: 11 September 2005 Updated: 11 February 2006 Updated: 13 May 2008
Purple Heart Medal
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

CL Keith Gravesite PHOTO May 2008
Photo By Michael Robert Patterson, May 2008

CL Keith Gravesite PHOTO
Photo By M. R. Patterson, 22 April 2004