Everett soldier dies in Iraq

A U.S. Army soldier with ties to Everett died Thursday in Bayji, Iraq, the Defense Department said.

Officials said Spc. Vincent Kamka, 23, had been assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division based in Fort Bragg, N.C.

Kamka grew up in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

He is the 15th service member with connections to Snohomish or Island counties to die in the Iraq war.

The Defense Department said the soldier’s death is under investigation and that it was a non-combat incident.

Kamka was a 2003 graduate of Skyline High School in Idaho Falls. A military spokesman said Kamka, who is one of 11 siblings, moved to Everett in 2004. He listed his nearest relatives as his parents in Idaho.

Lt. Col. Tim Marsano, a spokesman for the Idaho National Guard, said the family wished no contact from the media at this time. A funeral service has been set for Saturday in Idaho Falls.

Marsano said one of Kamka’s brothers moved to the Everett area, and some other family members, including Vincent Kamka, followed him to Snohomish County.

The soldier’s family issued a statement:

“Vince believed in duty to God, country and family. He served this country with dedication obvious to all now. Vince was a quiet, respectful and honorable son, beloved brother and uncle. We thank God for Vincent’s life and sacrifice. We honor all others who stand up next to him; this is the price of freedom.”

The Post-Register newspaper in Idaho Falls said the dead soldier has several family members who also served in the military. Kamka’s mother, Brenda Kamka, wrote a letter to the newspaper’s editor in 2006 describing Vince Kamka’s patriotism.

“My son currently chooses to serve in the U.S. Army because he is a patriot,” Brenda Kamka wrote. “Actually, his three brothers and father also chose to serve this country. Patriotism is a way of life, and many Americans still teach their children that freedom isn’t free.”

On her MySpace.com page, his sister, Cassandra, posted a statement Monday.

“I want everyone to know that my brother died to keep America free,” she wrote. “I know that this war is looked on in many different ways. For my brother, he was there (Iraq) for the cause of helping and caring for people. He loved the people there. He could not stand the thought of us leaving.”

On his own MySpace page, Vincent Kamka lists his favorite books from authors including Robert Heinlein, Kurt Vonnegut, Aldous Huxley, Louis Lamour and Tom Clancy, as well as “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell,” by Tucker Max.

Two of his former teachers remember Kamka as a quiet person who seldom drew attention to himself.

Dave Sanders, who teaches history at Skyline, remembered Kamka as “nice, really polite, kind of quiet.”

Robin Bush, his English teacher for two years, said Kamka’s sense of patriotic duty was very strong.

“We had a lot of discussions about going into the Army, his family being in the military,” said Bush, now assistant principal at a junior high school in Idaho Falls. “We had a poetry project, and he took a picture of the flagpole just as a jet happened to be going by. He told me that symbolized what he felt toward this country.”

Bush said Kamka knew a lot about computers and he thought for a while thought the pupil would go into that field.

“I kind of thought he would go in that direction, but he had a sense of duty,” Bush said. “I feel bad that he’s gone. He would have had great things to share with other people.”

Reporter Jim Haley: 425-339-3447 or jhaley@heraldnet.com.

Post-Register reporter Paul Menser contributed to this report.

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