Thursday, June 24, 2010

Army Pfc. Robert K. L. Repkie

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Robert K. L. Repkie, 20, of Knoxville, Tenn.

Pfc. Repkie was assigned to the 782nd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died June 24, 2010 at Forward Operating Base Farah, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained in a noncombat-related incident.

‘He made a difference in my life’
The Associated Press

Robert Repkie’s dad wanted him to get a college education before he joined the military. But the young man dreamed of leading and wanted to pay his dues.

“Dad, how can I command troops if I don’t know what they went through?” Repkie told his father, Russell Repkie.

Robert Repkie was remembered as a happy, intelligent and funny person who joined the Army to continue his family’s history of military service. He primarily worked as a cook while on his deployment to Afghanistan, but he also had been trained as a gunner and sometimes went out on missions in the turret.

The 20-year-old from Sweetwater, Tenn., died June 24 at Forward Operating Base Farah, Afghanistan, in an incident unrelated to combat. The military is investigating. Repkie was assigned to Fort Bragg, N.C.

The soldier’s stepsister, Letiscia Loepp, said the two were close and considered themselves biological siblings.

Repkie also made sure to keep in touch with teachers and counselors back at Sweetwater High School. Staff at the school said Repkie would send them Facebook messages and call them from Afghanistan before class started.

“It’s our job to make a difference in a child’s life,” principal David Watts said. “But he made a difference in my life.”

Robert Repkie’s mannerisms made it easy for people to decipher his personality.
His Facebook profile picture, showing his U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Delta Troop patch he so proudly wore, showed his dedication. His shy nature showed his quiet reserve.

His smile showed his heart.

Pfc. Robert “Kelsey” Repkie, a Sweetwater, Tenn., native, died in action Thursday in Afghanistan.

Repkie, who is survived by his parents Russell and Susan Repkie, will be laid to rest with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.

Sweetwater High School Principal David Watts said today that Repkie redefined his role as a school administrator.

“It’s our job to make a difference in a child’s life,” Watts said, “but he made a difference in my life.

“I’ll never forget Robert Repkie.”

Repkie only spent two years at Sweetwater High School, but he built lasting relationships.

“He knew what time (Assistant Principal) Rex (Rhodes) came in, and he would call us before school started just to talk to us,” Watts said. “He would even call us from Afghanistan.”

His communication was not limited to telephone calls. His former science teacher, Kari Connaster, whom Repkie fondly called “Mrs. C,” spoke with him via Facebook last Wednesday. Connaster said it was not unusual to speak with him through the social networking site.

“He would always talk to me on Facebook when he could,” Connaster said. “He said it was hot, and that was working as a cook. He told me how he planned to try some online classes for college when he got back.”

Watts said the counseling he and other Sweetwater High staff members gave Repkie brought them all closer together. From their talks, Watts knew Repkie wanted to be a military man, regardless of the circumstances.

“We talked about his career, and he said. ‘I want to go into the military. I want to serve my country,’” Watts said. “We told him he would end up in a war zone, but he knew the danger, and he didn’t seem to mind.”

The military, Connaster said, gave Repkie an atmosphere he craved.

“He was very proud of what he was doing, and very proud of the men he served with,” she said. “He called them ‘brothers.’”

Watts said knowing what Repkie will miss is the hardest part of accepting his death.

“He was only 20 and he won’t have the opportunity to raise a family,” Watts said. “I’ll never have the opportunity to hear his voice again.”

But Watts knows exactly what Repkie would say.

“Robert would come in school and ask us how everything was, and I would say, ‘It’s all good, Robert.’ If he were here today, he would have one thing to say: ‘It’s all good.’ ”

Army Pfc. Robert K. L. Repkie was killed in a non-combat related incident on 6/24/10.

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