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Army Pfc. Kyle M. Hemauer

Died May 23, 2005 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

21, of Chilton, Wis.; assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division, Virginia Army National Guard, Manassas, Va.; died May 23 of non-combat-related injuries in Zabul, Afghanistan.

Wis. Guardsman killed in Afghanistan

Associated Press

CHILTON, Wis. — 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 Pfc. 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.

A man who answered the telephone at the home of Hemauer’s parents, Andy and Anne Hemauer, said the family didn’t want to comment but referred the caller to Wieting Funeral Home, which is handling arrangements.

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.”

Maj. Gen. 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.”

Community turns out to mourn fallen soldier

CHILTON, Wis. — Chilton residents turned out Thursday 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.”

“It is just a pity,” said Vincenzo Valenti, owner of Salon Valenti’s Barber/Stylist.

“It took the whole community aback,” agreed stylist Rochelle Oney.

Spc. Kyle Hemauer, 21, died May 23 while serving with the Army National Guard in Zabul, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division, based in Manassas, Va.

The Defense Department did not disclose the cause of his death, other than to say it was not related to combat.

Hemauer, a Chilton native, graduated from Chilton High School in 2002 and had been in the military just under three years.

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.

Hugo was among those attending the funeral at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Chilton, a city of about 3,000 in east-central Wisconsin.

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.”

The community support was evident last weekend when Hemauer’s body arrived at Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport and was brought back to Chilton on Sunday night by his parents, Andy and Anne Hemauer.

“It was 12 at night, the whole street was lined with candles and everyone held a flag,” Sue Lisowe said. “It was pretty touching.”

Silas said Chilton residents feel Hemauer deserves the same respect as any other soldier who dies while serving in a war zone, even though military officials say his death was not from combat.

“That young man, he’s overseas, he’s wearing that uniform and his life is on the line, period,” Silas said. “He got killed in a foreign country where fighting is going on. That should be classified as combat regardless.”

— Associated Press

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