Saturday, May 19, 2007

Rhys Klasno remembered

Rhys W. Klasno wanted to save lives.

The 20-year-old Army specialist, a heavy equipment driver assigned to the California National Guard's 1114th Transportation Company in Bakersfield, was killed in Iraq on May 13 when an improvised explosive device blew up near his vehicle in Haditha.

Klasno, who leaves a pregnant wife at home in Riverside, was posthumously promoted to the rank of sergeant.

His father said Klasno had already finished training to become a paramedic and planned to do so after he returned from Iraq because he wanted to help the sick and wounded.

"Even when he was in Iraq, he volunteered at the base hospital," Michael Klasno said. "My son was always the first to volunteer."

Klasno's last electronic message to longtime friend Bryan Dean, who took paramedic classes with Klasno at Riverside City College, was "I love you. Go save lives."

Born in Orange, Klasno graduated from Woodcrest Christian High School in Riverside in 2004. He had also attended Woodcrest Christian Middle School, principal John Smith said.

"Rhys was a good student, not only academically, but also in terms of his social contribution," Smith said. "He was a people person."

Klasno, who enlisted in the National Guard in 2004, married high school sweetheart Stephanie Ann Griffith on Oct. 15, 2005. She is expecting their first child, a girl, in August. The couple planned to name her London Eevie Klasno, family members said.

Klasno last saw his family on a brief trip home in November. He was expected to return home in July, said his mother Lynn Jardinico.

"We were hoping he was going to make it home in time for the baby," Jardinico said.

From the Daily Comet

Related Link:
Rhys W. Klasno dies of injuries from I.E.D.