Tuesday, May 01, 2007

David A. Kirkpatrick dies of injuries from I.E.D.

Growing up, Pfc. David Austin Kirkpatrick had a love for all things military. The Matthews native collected guns, loved reading books about the Army and could name every kind of military tank and vehicle, his sister Carrie Kirkpatrick said.

"Even when he was little, he'd wear camo all the time," she said.

No one was surprised when he decided to join the Army last year.

His Army career came to an abrupt end, though, when he was killed Friday in Iraq. His sister said the family had been told David, part of the 57th Cavalry out of Fort Stewart, Ga., had been riding in a Humvee when an improvised explosive device detonated.

Now family and friends remember the 20-year-old man who they say loved to be outside, spending his time exploring.

David Kirkpatrick was a 2006 graduate of Eastbrook High School. He wasn't much into school, Carrie Kirkpatrick said, instead preferring to spend his time in the woods.

"He was the kind of kid who would go out into the woods for hours," she said.
One time, he even dug a hole that he and some friends spent the night in.

His friend Troy Mayo said he remembers going out with him.

"I'd climb a tree, and he'd go look around, go adventuring," Mayo said.

He often practiced shooting his grandfather's guns, too, and every now and then would go hunting, Carrie Kirkpatrick said.

It was hard to part him with guns, even the toy ones. Carrie Kirkpatrick said her family had just been looking at an old Easter photo with his four sisters and David dressed nicely. Only then, did they notice he had stuck a squirt gun in the waist of his pants.

"It was totally natural for him," she said.

When he wasn't exploring, he was busy with his two trucks.

"He was always outside working on his truck," friend Kandra Messner said of what she called Kirkpatrick's monster truck. "I remember he let me drive around the parking lot one time, and it was so high up in the air I almost fell when I jumped out."

He liked tinkering with the family's cars and even took automotive classes at Tucker Career and Technology Center with Mayo.

When Mayo was recovering from an accident in high school, Kirkpatrick would pick Mayo up for school.

Even though he always arrived at Mayo's house with just five minutes before classes started, the truck would always get them there on time, Mayo said.

Larry Williams, one of David's automotive teachers at Tucker, said he was a good student and good at what he did.

"He was just a super nice kid," Williams said.

His work didn't stop when he joined the Army, either. His main job was as a mechanic, his sister said.

Friends and family said Kirkpatrick didn't have many social tendencies and was often quiet. But that didn't mean he couldn't make you laugh.

"You'd think he wasn't paying any attention and the next thing you know, he'd pop in with something hilarious," his sister said.

Messner also remembered the funny side of the man she's been friends with since sixth grade.
"He was never really outgoing, but when you got to know him, he was so funny he would make you laugh all the time," she said.

He also matured after joining the Army, Carrie Kirkpatrick said. Even in his military pictures, she said, family members could tell how much he had grown in the Army.

He also accepted that he would most likely be sent to Iraq, writing to Messner during boot camp that he knew was likely headed there.

He wasn't scared, though. He saw it as a matter of pride, Messner said.

"He wasn't really scared or anything because he would get his combat patch and it would earn him respect," she said.

Carrie Kirkpatrick said she was glad to see the changes in her brother, who became a little bit more affectionate to his family and went from being the annoying brother to a mature man.

"Just wish we had a chance to know the grown-up Dave a little better," she said.

From the Indianapolis Star