|Richard Essex, 23, of Kelseyville, Calif., died on Thursday, August 16, 2012, in a helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan. Courtesy photo.|
KELSEYVILLE, Calif. – A young soldier from Kelseyville was among 11 people killed in southern Afghanistan on Thursday when the Black Hawk helicopter they were riding in crashed.
Richard Essex, 23, was among the casualties who died in the crash, according to his aunt, Mayme Dyslin of Kelseyville.
Dyslin said Thursday evening that her family was notified just a few hours earlier during a visit from two members of the military.
The International Security Assistance Force said in a brief statement that the Thursday crash killed four of its members, three U.S. service members, three members of the Afghan national security forces and an Afghan civilian interpreter.
The cause of the crash is under investigation, and none of the casualties were named in the statement.
Media reports have stated that the Taliban has claimed credit for shooting down the helicopter in Kandahar province, whose time zone is 11 and a half hours ahead of Kelseyville.
Dyslin said her nephew was the helicopter’s gunner.
Essex was a 2008 graduate of Kelseyville High School who had always wanted to go into the U.S. Army, Dyslin said.
“It’s just what he always wanted to do,” she said. “He wanted to help people.”
She recalled her nephew as being a “laid back kid” who never caused problems or got into trouble. “He was just a free spirit,” Dyslin said.
He played the bass guitar, was an artist and a published poet, with one book of poetry to his credit and another ready to be published soon, she said.
Essex had been in Afghanistan for about a year, Dyslin said. His Facebook page – where he kept up with family and friends – showed numerous pictures of the barren landscape where he was serving. His profile stated he was a 91B Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic.
Dyslin said she and other family members had just spoken to him over the last few days. On Tuesday she and Essex had spoken over Facebook.
“He said he was doing good and he would be home in November,” she said.
But she said his family became alarmed when they didn’t hear any more from him.
“We all just knew when he didn’t call yesterday,” she said. “He always calls or Facebooks and he didn’t get a hold of anybody yesterday.”
Dyslin said her family is still trying to find out what happened and is set to meet with a military chaplain. They’ve not yet been notified of when Essex’s body will be returned home.
In addition to his aunt, Essex is survived by his parents, Marion and Brett Hopkins of Kelseyville; sisters, Stacey Hopkins and Jennifer Williamson; and brother, Michael Essex.
Lake County News will publish additional details about this story as they become available.
Elizabeth Larson at firstname.lastname@example.org .
written by a guest, August 18, 2012