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UW Grad Is Among Latest Washington-Based Soldiers Killed In Afghanistan

Austin Jenkins


The cemetery at Joint Base Lewis-McChord will be the site of a Memorial Day ceremony to honor fallen service members. A University of Washington graduate is among the latest Washington-based soldiers to die in Afghanistan. Army records indicate eight soldiers from the Army post near Tacoma have been killed in action so far this year.

Just before he deployed in March, 25-year old Lt. Travis Morgado Morgado spoke with NPR’s Martin Kaste outside Joint Base Lewis-McChord. He was reacting to news that a fellow soldier, Sgt. Robert Bales, had been accused of murdering 17 Afghan civilians.

“I know a lot of people who’ve done multiple deployments and, you know, it’s rough for them," Morgado said. "But they always come back still level-headed, that I’ve seen.”

Morgado was anticipating the massacre of the Afghan civilians was going to make his job -– as a platoon leader -- harder when he got to Afghanistan.

“It’s definitely going to be a little bit crazy, I think, when I get there now.”

Less than two months into his deployment, Morgado was killed by an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Kandahar province. His mother, Andrea Velasquez Kessler, reads from a prepared statement.

“My soul has been ripped to shreds, my wonderful son has been taken from me, our family is in shock and disbelief.”

Morgado was born in California, but raised in Edmonds, Washington. Kessler says her son joined the Army after graduating from the University of Washington in 2009 with a degree in civil engineering.

“We were not part of a military family, none of us in the family wanted him to join," she says. "But he was determined, he wanted to join the Army and he wanted to go to Afghanistan. I don’t know why, I don’t understand why. Ultimately we did support his decision and tried to remain positive.”

Kessler is pushing the Army for more details on how her son died. She says family and friends will spend Memorial Day at her home remembering her son.

On the Web:

Lewis-McChord Soldiers Generate Alarming Headlines - NPR, March 13, 2012:

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network