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Army Sgt. Kevin A. Gilbertson

Died August 31, 2007 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

24, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Schweinfurt, Germany; died Aug. 31 in Landstuhl, Germany, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit during combat operations Aug. 29 in Ramadi, Iraq.

Cedar Rapids soldier dies during second stint in Iraq

By Nigel Duara

Des Moines Register

Cedar Rapids native Sgt. Kevin Allan Gilbertson died Aug. 31 in a hospital in Germany.

The soldier, known as an upbeat, rabble-rousing, ball of fire nicknamed Gilmoe, was shot in Ramadi, Iraq, last week and died two days later. He was on his second tour in the country, military officials said.

“He was always go-go-go,” said his former stepmother Diane Gilbertson, who married Gilbertson’s father when Kevin was 4 years old. “It hit me. It hit me hard.”

Kevin Gilbertson, 25, was a newly minted family man. His son was born 8 months ago to his wife. The couple lived in Scheweinfurt, Germany, where Gilbertson served with the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.

“He joined the Army right out of high school to get a college education when he got out,” said Don Gilbertson, the soldier’s father. “His dream was getting a degree and supporting his family.

“He was the greatest kid in the world.”

A 2001 graduate of Cedar Rapids Jefferson High School, Kevin Gilbertson’s MySpace page told much of his story.

The postings ranged from expletive-laced tough-guy messages left by his buddies to pink-and-purple “Happy Easter” cards that prominently display bunny rabbits.

The soldier’s aunt, Amy Gilbertson of Austin, Texas, said that Kevin “was kind of like my little brother. He’s always been very proud. He loved his country. He really embraced being a soldier.”

Diane Gilbertson said Kevin made family a priority. He immediately befriended her twin sons, now 21 years old, and would visit her 12-year-old boy when he was on leave from Iraq. “He looks up to Kevin,” Gilbertson said. “He was a huge influence.”

Many posts on Kevin Gilbertson’s Web page related to his service or to his son. One, left on New Year’s Eve 2006, included a prayer for soldiers.

“Please God ... Grant them courage, when times seem bleak. Grant them strength, when they seem weak. Grant them comfort, when they feel all alone, and most of all, God, please bring them all home.”

Don Gilbertson said he will travel to Germany to retrieve his son’s body and return it to Iowa. Funeral arrangements are pending at Cedar Memorial Park Funeral Home in Cedar Rapids.

Gilbertson is the 61st person with Iowa ties to die in conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan since March 2003.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Cedar Rapids native remembered for sacrifice in Iraq

The Associated Press

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — A Cedar Rapids soldier was buried Sept. 11 as mourners remembered his love for his family and sacrifice for his country.

Army Sgt. Kevin Gilbertson, 24, was shot Aug. 29 by enemy forces in Ramadi, Iraq. He died two days later at a hospital in Germany, where he lived with his wife.

He had two children.

More than 300 people gathered for his funeral at the Cedar Memorial Park Chapel of Memories. He was then buried with military honors at Cedar Memorial Park Cemetery.

“Life need not be long to be abundant,” said the Rev. Marty Schuhmacher, who led the church service.

“A short life lived well is still a life to celebrate.”

Gilbertson graduated from Cedar Rapids Jefferson High School in 2000 and began his military career shortly afterward. He served with the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, based in Scheweinfurt, Germany.

Family members said it was his second stint in Iraq.

Maj. Gen. Howard Bromberg presented Gilbertson’s family with the soldier’s Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Combat Action Badge awards. “We owe a great debt to his family members,” Bromberg said.

A color guard fired three rounds of seven shots and a trumpeter played Taps during Gilbertson’s graveside service. The Patriot Riders held dozens of flags at the chapel and at the gravesite to honor the fallen soldier.

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