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Aaron Thomas Nemelka 'just wanted to serve his country'

By Yamiche Alcindor
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 6, 2009 6:43 PM

PFC Aaron Thomas Nemelka had barely finished all his service training when he was killed by gunshots Thursday at Fort Hood. The 19-year-old had been in the Army for just over a year and had signed up to do one of the most dangerous jobs in the service: bomb defusing.

His grandfather, Michael Nemelka, Sr. said his grandson choose the job because he was tired of seeing American soldiers die and wanted to help save lives.

"I think his dad even tried to talk him out of it," Michael Nemelka, Sr. said referring to the reservations of his son, Michael Nemelka, Jr. "But, people were being killed by roadside bombs and he wanted to help in any way he could. He choose his job. He loved what he learned."

Aaron Nemelka was the youngest of four children and a 2008 graduate of West Jordan High School in West Jordan, Utah. An Eagle Scout, he joined the Army in October 2008 after consulting his grandfather, an ex-Marine, and his cousin, another serviceman who is currently deployed in Germany. He was looking forward to possibly making a career out of the Army, his grandfather said.

"He was very happy that the Army let him enlist," Michael Nemelka said. "He was fun loving and bright. He liked to hang out with his family and his friends." In his free time, the young man also enjoyed skate boarding, and bowling.

MSgt. Tammy Sower, a casualty assistance officer assigned to help the family make arrangements regarding Aaron's death said he was most likely going to be deployed to the Middle East early next year. "He wanted to do the right thing," Sower said.

The Nemelka family learned of the death late Thursday night. Friday afternoon, his grandfather recalled Aaron's excitement about his coming deployment. "He was all ready to ship out," Michael Nemelka said. "He was excited as all heck. He was going to go do what he was trained to do. He just wanted to serve his country.

"I miss him. I loved him very much," he said.

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