Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Gilmoe (Kevin A.) Gilbertson dies 'Aug. 31 in Germany, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit during combat operations Aug. 29'

Cedar Rapids native Sgt. Kevin Allan Gilbertson died on Friday in a hospital in Germany.

The soldier, known as an upbeat, rabble-rousing, ball of fire nicknamed Gilmoe, was shot in Ramadi, Iraq, last week and died two days later. He was on his second tour in the country, military officials said.

"He was always go-go-go," said his former stepmother Diane Gilbertson, who married Gilbertson's father when Kevin was 4 years old. "It hit me. It hit me hard."

Kevin Gilbertson, 25, was a newly minted family man. His son was born 8 months ago to his wife. The couple lived in Scheweinfurt, Germany, where Gilbertson served with the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.

"He joined the Army right out of high school to get a college education when he got out," said Don Gilbertson, the soldier's father. "His dream was getting a degree and supporting his family.

"He was the greatest kid in the world."

A 2001 graduate of Cedar Rapids Jefferson High School, Kevin Gilbertson's MySpace page told much of his story.

The postings ranged from expletive-laced tough-guy messages left by his buddies to pink-and-purple "Happy Easter" cards that prominently display bunny rabbits.

The soldier's aunt, Amy Gilbertson of Austin, Texas, said that Kevin "was kind of like my little brother. He's always been very proud. He loved his country. He really embraced being a soldier."

Diane Gilbertson said Kevin made family a priority. He immediately befriended her twin sons, now 21 years old, and would visit her 12-year-old boy when he was on leave from Iraq. "He looks up to Kevin," Gilbertson said. "He was a huge influence."

Many posts on Kevin Gilbertson's Web page related to his service or to his son. One, left on New Year's Eve 2006, included a prayer for soldiers.

"Please God ... Grant them courage, when times seem bleak. Grant them strength, when they seem weak. Grant them comfort, when they feel all alone, and most of all, God, please bring them all home."

Don Gilbertson said he will travel to Germany to retrieve his son's body and return it to Iowa. Funeral arrangements are pending at Cedar Memorial Park Funeral Home in Cedar Rapids.

Gilbertson is the 61st person with Iowa ties to die in conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan since March 2003.

From the Des Moines Register

The death of a Cedar Rapids soldier has family members both mourning--but also remembering a man proud to serve.

Sgt. Kevin Allan Gilbertson, 25, was wounded in fighting in Iraq last Wednesday. He died in a military hospital in Germany on Friday. Relatives in Cedar Rapids told TV9 that Gilbertson, who went by the nickname "Gilmoe," was a fun kid who left for the military in 2001 after graduating from Jefferson High School.

Cousin Marie Billings, of Marion, said "we were close younger, but not through high school, we didn't hang out. But when he came back (on leave) he would always call me and one of his trips back we went to Chicago to see our aunt."

Gilbertson was based in Germany, but also served in Kosovo and did two tours in Iraq. He met and married his wife Nina in Germany. Gilbertson also leaves behind an eight-month-old son Timmy.

Cedar Rapids family say he was away for awhile, but kept in touch. One of the last calls occurred this summer when he phoned his grandmother from Iraq to wish her a happy 70th birthday.

Family members say they are beginning to learn more about how Gilbertson died in combat. Aunt Amy Gilbertson said "I just talked to his father, he did die with his best friend over there, his name was Sergeant Edward Brooks...he died on the spot."

Services are pending for Sergeant Kevin Gilbertson, but will probably take place next week in Cedar Rapids. Gilbertson is the 58th member of the military with Iowa ties to die in either Iraq or Afghanistan.

From KCRG 9