Slam Poet-Turned-Sergeant Is Killed

By Mariana Minaya
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Scott Kirkpatrick kept a collection of all the rocks and bricks that were thrown at him during his first tour of duty in Iraq. He had joined the Army 2 1/2 years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, hoping to go to Afghanistan and do his part to halt the terrorist threat.

Instead, he was deployed to Iraq, where he was among five soldiers killed Saturday in Arab Jabour, a haven for Sunni insurgents southeast of Baghdad. In the deadliest attack against U.S. troops this month, a sniper shot one soldier and lured the others into a house rigged to explode.

Although Kirkpatrick, 26, had made the transformation from sensitive poet to a "rock hard" soldier, he retained his humor and artistic sensibilities. The rocks hurled at his head, usually by children who moments before had been laughing and joking with him, "piqued his ironic sense of humor," said his uncle Roy Deppa, 59, of Montgomery County.

Army life was not something Kirkpatrick had considered while growing up in Frederick and parts of Virginia, his uncle said. As a teenager, Kirkpatrick's main interests were poetry, writing and acting.

He was an accomplished slam poet who traveled throughout the country to perform "modern, competitive type, in-your-face, streetwise sort of poetry," Deppa said.

His nephew had a way of telling stories that made his family burst into laughter -- especially when he was the punch line. He had a way of writing poetry that moved his uncle.

But Sept. 11 "affected him, and he just wanted to make a difference," said Kirkpatrick's cousin Suzy Quintavalle, 37, of Mount Airy. In a blog item, she came across a posting from a friend that noted Kirkpatrick's need "to make the difference from the inside out."

He temporarily left behind his longtime girlfriend, Christy Blasingame, for Army training in Georgia. But before leaving for Iraq with the Third Infantry Division in January 2005, Kirkpatrick proposed. The couple married during a leave in his first tour, and they spent more than a year together in Georgia before he left on his second tour May 11, his wife's 29th birthday.

His military career was a successful one: He had been promoted to sergeant and aspired to a career in intelligence services, Deppa said.

"I remember his father going back to the base and looking at his kid, the counterculture poet in an Army uniform in the faces of his privates, yelling at them," Deppa said. "It was just this transformation."

When Kirkpatrick obtained Internet access in the Green Zone last week, he told his father, Ed Kirkpatrick of Dickerson in Montgomery, that he was starting to consider a teaching career.

"I can only conjecture that being on the ground in Iraq maybe changed his mind about wanting to do that permanently," he said. "I think he learned a lot about himself in the Army. I think he realized that he was a lot stronger and a lot more self-sufficient than he realized."

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