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Proud To Serve

Sgt. Scott Kirkpatrick died in Iraq last week.

During his first tour in Iraq, Scott Kirkpatrick drove a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Before he would go back for his second tour, he had asked to be taken out of the vehicle and put onto the ground.

“He requested to be a foot soldier,” said Roy Deppa, Kirkpatrick’s uncle. “It scared the hell out of me and the rest of the family.”

Sgt. Scott Kirkpatrick died on Saturday, Aug. 11, in Arab Jabour, Iraq, of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device. According to a Department of Defense report, Kirkpatrick, 26, of Reston, and three other soldiers who were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart, Ga., were killed in Saturday’s action. They entered a building looking for a sniper who had injured a fellow soldier. An explosion in the building took the lives of the four soldiers.

“It’s news you’ve been dreading,” said Deppa, speaking on behalf of the Kirkpatrick family in Maryland. Kirkpatrick joined the Army in March 2004, two-and-a-half years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the nation.

Deppa said Kirkpatrick was looking for some direction in life and thought that military experience could benefit him in a search of a career in military intelligence. However, Kirkpatrick, an accomplished slam poet and longtime actor, surprised the family when he announced his decision to join the military.

“It just floored me. There was no predictor to that,” said Deppa. Although Deppa was surprised, he realized after talking to Kirkpatrick that he had given the decision a great deal of thought. Deppa said Kirkpatrick wanted to get into the Special Forces and barely missed out on the cut in boot camp. However, during his military career, he earned the sergeant’s stripes. “He was very proud of his sergeant accomplishment,” said Deppa. Prior to leaving for his second tour in Iraq, Kirkpatrick married his longtime girlfriend Christy Blasingame, 29.

ALTHOUGH THE DEPARTMENT of Defense report lists Reston as Kirkpatrick’s hometown, Deppa said he was born in Frederick, Md., and lived in Herndon and Sterling. He attended Park View High School and took some classes at George Mason University while working. During that time, Kirkpatrick lived with roommates in Fairfax and it is possible, said Deppa, that they lived in more than one apartment, including one in Reston. Kirkpatrick’s MySpace page lists Fairfax, Sterling and Reston as his hometown.

“He was real active in the drama group in high school,” said Deppa about his nephew. The love for acting also transcended to amateur theater, and Kirkpatrick performed in a few plays for Herndon-based Elden Street Players.

“I recall him as being a very pleasant young man,” said Richard Klare, the executive producer of Elden Street Players. He said Kirkpatrick had a lot of acting talent, but was also technically savvy and would often lend a hand backstage. Klare remembers him as a young man interested in everything around him and as someone who was helpful and accommodating. “I don’t recall him ever having anything negative to say, ever,” said Klare.

Kirkpatrick was also a champion slam poet. In 2000 he was crowned D.C.’s Grand Slam Champion. He traveled the nation performing slam poetry. Deppa said other poets occasionally asked him to read some of their work. He continued to write poetry while in the army. “Unfortunately I never went to one of his performances,” said Deppa.

Deppa remembers his nephew as someone who had a great sense of humor, but that is not meant to imply he was not serious. “He analyzed everything around him,” said Deppa. “He was introspective and thoughtful.” His analytical side is one of the reasons why he joined the army, feeling the need to serve the country after the Sept. 11 attacks, according to Deppa.

Deppa said the family is hearing from Kirkpatrick’s friends from different communities — military, acting, poetry — and everyone remembers Kirkpatrick in a similar way. “Everybody sort of remembers him as good natured, a lot of fun. Someone who was observant, thoughtful and a complex guy,” said Deppa. People across the nation have signed numerous memorial pages on the Internet, remembering Kirkpatrick and offering support to the family. On a Web site created by his father Ed Kirkpatrick, Holly Harrington, a director of the show “Runaways” with Elden Street Players, in which Scott Kirkpatrick acted, wrote: “Scott will forever be locked in my mind as a sweet, deep, and loving soul with great enveloping and comfortable hugs. I am glad I met him, and glad I got to read his poems that were on this site. I heard him again.”

Sgt. Scott Kirkpatrick is survived by wife Christy Kirkpatrick, parents Martha and Edward Kirkpatrick, brother Kevin Kirkpatrick and other family members and friends. Internment is scheduled on Thursday, Aug. 23, at 11 o’clock at Arlington National Cemetery.