Monday, May 28, 2007

Casey P. Zylman dies of 'wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle'

A 22-year-old Schofield Barracks soldier who was a leader and an athlete in his community of Coleman, Mich., died in Iraq after being wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq, the Pentagon reported yesterday.

Pfc. Casey P. Zylman was the 17th member of the 25th Infantry Division to die in Iraq since the unit arrived there in late August.

The Pentagon said Zylman was injured Thursday in Tallafar when a roadside bomb was detonated near his vehicle and he died Friday of the wounds. He was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

The soldier's father, Randy Zylman, said in a telephone interview from Coleman that his son attended Northwood University, a business college in Midland, Mich., for two years after high school and then went to a community college.

"He just didn't know what he wanted to do and asked me one day about joining the Army," Zylman said. As an Army veteran who served in Vietnam, Zylman said he wasn't keen about the idea, but his son joined the Army in July 2005.

The family, including Casey's mother, Jamie, and sister, Amie, last talked to him about a month ago, Zylman said. "We talked to him every two weeks on the phone, then I think he got a little busier.

"He was always upbeat. He never talked much about the war. It was always just chitchat. We told him what was going on and he told us about his friends."

Zylman said his son was on the honor role from the first grade through 12th and was a good athlete. He planned to return to college after leaving the service in 2008.

Coleman High School Principal Mary Pritchford said Casey was "an excellent student and very fine athlete," according to a story from the Associated Press. He was a student-council member, "a true leader in his class and just an excellent person," she said.

Joe Albaugh, Coleman High football coach, told the Detroit News fellow students looked up to Casey Zylman, who was a motivator. "He wouldn't let you quit," he said.

Albaugh introduced him to the crowd at a Coleman basketball game when he was home from the military and he received an ovation.

The senior Zylman said his son was home last Thanksgiving. "He used up his R and R, so probably wouldn't be due home for a visit until November or December."

The family was talking about coming to Hawaii when their son's unit returned to Schofield Barracks, Zylman said. "We still might. We still have to support those kids. We can't dictate what the government does but we sure can support the kids that are helping us."

From the Star Bulletin