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Kevin M Kryst

Kevin M. Kryst liked everything fast – and the sky seemed the limit. “He was always very active, very busy. He had a need for speed, and that’s why he got flying helicopters,” said his mother, Elizabeth. Kryst, 27, of West Bend, Wis., died Dec. 18 during a mortar attack in Anbar province. He was assigned to Camp Pendleton and was on his second tour. Kryst graduated from high school in 1997. He played French horn in a school ensemble and was a member of the swim team, said Principal Pat Gardon. “He was an excellent student” and graduated with a grade point average in excess of 3.9, Gardon said. “Kevin was a sincere, dedicated young man.” Kryst was commissioned an officer when he graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2001. Kryst’s great-grandfather had been a Marine. “He wanted to fly, and he thought his experience would be an adventure,” said his brother, Brad. “He flew Cobra helicopters in Iraq.” When Kryst was last home in August, he got engaged to his school sweetheart, Sara. He also is survived by his father, Glenn. “We’re proud of him,” his mother said. “But we’re at a loss without him.”

A 27-year-old Marine helicopter pilot from West Bend was killed in Iraq, only weeks after beginning his second deployment there, his mother said Tuesday.

Capt. Kevin M. Kryst died Monday from injuries received in fighting in al-Anbar province, the Department of Defense said in a statement.

“He died from injuries due to being hit by a fragment of a mortar,” said his mother, Elizabeth Kryst.

“We’re proud of him,” she said. “But we’re at a loss without him.”

Kryst was the oldest of six children. He had four younger brothers and a younger sister.

He graduated from West Bend West High School in 1997 and UW-Madison in 2001. He enlisted upon graduation.

Kryst’s great-grandfather had been a Marine. “It was something he always wanted to do,” Elizabeth Kryst said.

Kryst was first deployed in Iraq during 2004.

“He was always very active, very busy. He had a need for speed, and that’s what he got flying helicopters,” Elizabeth Kryst said.

Her son was part of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, she said.

The unit’s Web site had a statement posted Dec. 4, in which it said it had established its headquarters at Camp Korean Village near Rutbah and begun counterinsurgency operations to neutralize anti-Iraq forces in the province.

Patrick Gardon, West Bend West principal, issued a statement Tuesday saying that Kryst had been on the school’s swim team and part of its wind ensemble.

“He was very proud to serve his country and was a quality individual of high character, dedication and commitment, as well as an excellent student,” Gardon said.

As of Tuesday, 64 military personnel from Wisconsin have died in the war in Iraq.

“Capt. Kryst’s bravery is a shining example of the determination and courage that makes our nation’s armed forces strong. Kevin’s loved ones have lost a devoted family member and our country has lost a courageous Marine. Maria and I extend our heartfelt sympathies to his family, friends and fellow Marines who mourn his loss.”

Kryst, 27, died Dec. 18 as a result of wounds received while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Light-Attack Helicopter Squadron 267, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, CA.

In honor of Capt. Kryst, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

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West Bend
Age: 27
Incident Location: Anbar province, Iraq
Branch: Marines
Rank: Capt.
Unit: Marine Light-Attack Helicopter Squadron 267, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force
Units Base: Camp Pendleton, California