Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Kevin Gaspers remembered

The Hastings community continues to mourn the loss of a fallen soldier. Family and friends are still coming to grips with the death of Lieutenant Kevin Gaspers, who was killed Monday in Iraq.

His parents say they saw Kevin just two weeks ago. He was in Hastings to celebrate Easter weekend as well as his 26th birthday.

It was the last time they spoke to him.

Kevin Gaspers graduated from St. Cecilia High School in 2000 and served in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division.

Those close to him say he was a great son, a great brother, and a great friend.

Pictures of Kevin Gaspers from various stages in life...

Kevin's parents have put them out on display Wednesday just next to an assortment of flowers from well–wishers.

Friends and family are still at a loss.

“I cannot believe he is gone,” said Kevin’s neighbor Alton Jackson. “I just cannot believe it.”

“We are just devastated by this and we are going to miss him terribly,” said St. Cecilia Football Coach Carl Tesmer.

“Everything Kevin did, he did well,” said Jackson. “A good student, well–liked, good athlete. Very respectful, just a great kid.”

Jackson has known Kevin since he was a little boy. They spoke just two weeks ago at a family dinner.

“He did not talk a lot about what was going on over there, but we had a great evening together, and it is something I will cherish all my life,” said Jackson.

During his time in Nebraska two weeks ago, Kevin also spoke to some young students in Alma about his service in the Army.

“He was very proud that he was doing a job for his country, and I was very proud of him,” Tesmer said.

“Everything he did, he did with all his heart so just like he was a great football player, student, neighbor, I could see where he would be a great soldier,” Jackson said. “He is just one of those kids you will never forget.”

At this time no funeral arrangement or plans for visitation have been made.

But his family says they are coordinating with the military and should have a better idea within a week.

Friends expect the Hastings community to show strong support when Kevin's body does return home.

From KHAS 5

The parents of a fallen soldier say their son loved his family, his job and his country. 26–year–old Lt. Kevin Gaspers of Hastings died earlier this week in Iraq.

Late this afternoon, NEWS 5 sat down with Gaspers' family to talk about Kevin and their memories of him.

The attack happened late Monday night.

Pam and John Gaspers said they did not see any news reports that evening.

They first learned of Kevin's death early Tuesday morning just as they were about to leave town.

Kevin graduated from St. Cecilia High School in 2000.

He was a member of the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division stationed in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

His parents, and sisters Katie and Audrey, have been going through pictures and letters from Kevin Thursday.

John Gaspers says the outpouring of support from the community has been welcome and needed.

Kevin Gasper's body is being flown to Dover, Delaware Friday.

It's not yet known when he will arrive in Hastings and funeral plans will not be finalized until that time.

The Department of Defense says Gaspers died when a bomb detonated outside a building he was occupying in As Sadah, Iraq.

From KHAS 5

We continue our conversation with Kevin Gasper's parents who are remembering their fallen hero. Kevin died Monday in Iraq. News 5 sat down with his parents Pam and John Thursday.

Kevin's dad describes a special moment between a father and son.

“I never said I loved him until he was boarding the plane to go to Iraq that first time last August and I was home here,” said John Gaspers. “He called and said goodbye and it just tore my heart up. I said I loved him and I said it a lot on the phone after that.”

Kevin's parents wanted to share some of his letters he wrote to family and friends:

Thank you so much for thinking of me over here. It is amazing how much support I have received from back home. It really helps me through this deployment.

What a different world it is over here. Dirty — that is about the best way I can describe it. They have no sewer systems in the area that I’m at, so all of the trash and stuff goes into the canals.

Then, down the stream, people use the canal water for drinking.

The bad thing is that the people don’t know any better, and they don’t care to make it any better. They want us to give them everything without having to work for any of it. I thank God everyday that I was not raised in a place like this.

It is really a shame because some parts of the county are beautiful. The sunsets here are amazing, and there are a lot of palm trees.

We work with the Iraqi Army a lot. What a difference that is. They have a different style of operating then we do. They are getting better, but it will take them awhile.

I have run into fellow Nebraskans here. One of my instructors at college is on the some FOB as me. And there is a priest and his assistant who came here who are from Nebraska, as well. It turns out that I went to college with his assistant in Lincoln. It’s funny how small the world is.

Thank you again and I will think of you often.

Kevin GAs


It was very considerate of you to send me a package. I received your package the day I got back from a big operation. I have to say it was a big help in terms of morale.

As it turns out, I had a craving for M&M’s, and they didn’t last long. It is a amazing the amount of support that I have been receiving from back home. That in itself makes my job easier to deal with.

Things are aright here. I can’t complain about the living conditions or the food. They are better than I expected, and I always seem to find a cup of coffee in the morning. A person learns to appreciate the little things here.

I feel that I owe you a better explanation of what I do. I’m a platoon leader for what the army is calling a “motorized reconnaissance platoon.” I have four gun trucks and 20 men in my platoon.

In a conventional war, we would go out in front of the main body of troops in order to find the enemy, then, once we found them, we would guide the troops to them.

This fight is different however in that we still search for the enemy by gathering intelligence from the locals, but the problem is that the enemy can be anywhere, so we have to find out by names who they are.

Once we get their names, we try to find their homes and then catch them when they are there. It makes for a long and painful process.

We spend most of our time talking to the locals just so we can go raid a house. The good thing is all of our work finally paid off, and we found the fight we were looking for about a week ago.

For the country itself, there are parts that are beautiful, like the sunsets in the desert and all the stars that you can see at night. It makes for great pictures.

The level of poverty here has amazed me, but I’m getting used to it. Most of the homes are made out of mud in the rural areas. In the towns, they are made of bricks or concrete — not many have running water or electricity. The thing that upsets me the most is that the people don’t do anything to improve the living conditions.

I hope this gives you a basic idea of what we are doing and what the country is like.

Thank you for your support, it is very much appreciated.

Kevin Gaspers

From KHAS 5

Related Link:
Kevin J. Gaspers dies of 'wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his location'