Saturday, July 07, 2007

Keith Kline reported killed in Iraq

OAK HARBOR, Ohio — A 24-year-old soldier from Oak Harbor was killed this week by a roadside bomb near Baghdad, his family told The Blade yesterday.

Keith Kline, a 2002 graduate of Oak Harbor High School, was a sergeant with the 82nd Airborne Division based in Fort Bragg, N.C., his uncle, Mark Lipstraw, said.

The family was told of Sergeant Kline’s death late Thursday, he said.

Mr. Lipstraw said his nephew was on his first tour in Iraq and had been there about three months.

Sergeant Kline joined the Army after high school and re-enlisted after serving his first three years. He worked in the communications area of the Army and enjoyed it, Mr. Lipstraw said.

Sergeant Kline is the son of Betty Kline of Oak Harbor, and stepson of Allen Lipstraw of Rocky Ridge, who raised him since Sergeant Kline was a baby. His biological father is Tom Crawfoot, Mark Lipstraw said.

In high school, the solider was a leader on the Rocket wrestling team that was the Division II district champions in 2002, his senior year.

Sergeant Kline placed sixth in the state wrestling tournament that year.

“There was no one like him,” Coach George Bergman said.

He wrestled in the 103-pound division, the smallest weight class. That meant he was first on the mats and led the way for the team, Mr. Bergman said.

“He was very much a team player,” the coach said.

Mr. Bergman said his former wrestler was “a great kid” who had a vibrant personality and was well-liked by everybody.

“He had lots of energy,” Mr. Bergman said. “He had no quit in him. He didn’t get discouraged.”

Paulette Lipstraw, Sergeant Kline’s aunt, joked that her nephew was “a tiny thing” in high school, but he bulked up to about 130 pounds while in the service.

“He was forever giving,” Ms. Lipstraw said. “He had a heart of gold.”

Sergeant Kline knew the risks of being in the military but wanted to serve his country, his aunt said.

“We are so proud of him,” she said.

Sergeant Kline enjoyed spending time fishing and deer hunting, said his cousin, Jake Lipstraw, who turned 19 on Thursday, the day they heard the news.

The two grew up together playing video games and causing mischief in the neighborhood, his cousin said. Many of the Xbox 360 games they played were Army games, Jake Lipstraw said. “We hung out a lot. We got along so well.”

From the Toledo Blade