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2006-07-16 Age 29, of Las Vegas; assigned to 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Polk, La.; killed July 16 at Larzab Base, Afghanistan, when his platoon encountered enemy forces small-arms fire during combat operations. Later the 2nd BN. 4th Infantry Regiment Barracks at Fort Polk, LA. was name in his Honor.
Soldier remembered at service
BY ERIC BUTLER
Globe-News Correspondent LOVIS, N.M. "” One speaker at the memorial service of Army Sgt. Robert Paul Kassin noted how different everything had changed for his loved ones, and many in his community, in the span of a week.
Kassin's friends and family gathered at Highland Baptist Church on Sunday afternoon to pay tribute to the memory of the 29-year-old fallen Army soldier. Kassin died in Afghanistan a week ago by small-arms fire when his platoon came under attack.
Kassin's death brought the fighting in Afghanistan "a little closer to home,"said Ronna Mares, who described Kassin as passionate to his sisters, parents, friends and to his new wife and children.
"I am told it was with that same passion that he embraced the service to his country," she said.
Lucia Kassin, Robert's mother, noted that her son was apt to bring home what she called strays" either in the form of new friends or small animals he had found " while growing up.
"He wanted to take care of more than that. When he died, he died doing what he wanted to do "” taking care of home and family, making sure everyone was safe," she said. "I know when he checked the perimeter, he wanted to protect his buddies there, too."
Though Kassin was in the Army, it was his father's service in the Air Force that brought the family to Eastern New Mexico. Robert Kassin attended junior high and two years of high school in Clovis before he moved to Las Vegas.
He enlisted in the Army while in Nevada, but his immediate family stayed in Clovis where many remembered Robert Kassin as a person that often utilized his sense of humor to cheer others.
"He always found a way to make a joke or make you laugh," Heath Jaquess said. "That was his favorite thing: laughter."
"If you were in a bad mood, just like everybody here has said, he was the comic relief," Eric Williams added during the service.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has ordered state flags to be flown at half-staff today and Tuesday in honor of Kassin.
Kassin, who married his wife Judy in February, will be buried Saturday in Coushatta, La.
Outside the church, a myriad of supporters, including motorcyclists donned in black leather and various bits of red, white and blue, waited for the end of the service to pay respects to the family.
Inside, Highland Baptist minister Dean Turvaville reflected upon the meaning of Kassin's death for his survivors.
"It's different when you see (war casualties) on TV from when it's your own son,"Turvaville said. "Until you bury a child, you don't know. It's different when hurt has a name.
Las Vegas killed in Afghanistan helped build school
Father says son requested second tour of duty
By KEITH ROGERS
Before he was gunned down this week in a bombed-out region of Afghanistan, Army Sgt. Robert P. Kassin helped build a school where none had ever stood as part of an effort "to make things right," his father said Wednesday.
Kassin was on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan, and "he requested this assignment to go back because the primary mission was to rebuild," his father, Robert Joseph Kassin, said in a telephone interview from Clovis, N.M. That's where his son had spent most of his life before moving to Las Vegas after his junior year of high school.
The Department of Defense said the 29-year-old soldier was killed Sunday at Larzab Base, Afghanistan when enemy forces attacked his platoon with small arms fire during combat operations.
Kassin was assigned to Charlie Company of the 2nd "Warrior" Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division out of Fort Polk, La.
"They created a school for an area that never had a school before. He was actually very proud to be over there doing that. ... He was very proud of his military service. He tried to make things right," the elder Kassin said.
He said his son had listed Las Vegas as his home of record because that's where he joined the Army in 1996, the year after he came to Las Vegas to help his uncle, the late Paul Knowlden, with a television repair business. Knowlden suffered from a partially blinding eye disease and needed his nephew to pick up and deliver TVs.
In the fall of 1995, Kassin had waited too long to finish his senior year at a public high school. Instead, he attended a special private school to graduate, his father said.
"I was still in the Air Force at the time," said Robert Joseph Kassin, a retired avionics technician. "He decided in his senior year to enlist in the military and went into the Army. I told him I would stand by any decisions he made."
By the time he was killed, his son was on his third enlistment and second tour of Afghanistan, having served there at the onset of the invasion in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
He had returned to Clovis in December when his mother was hospitalized and the family last spoke to him when his grandfather died in March.
"We sent a Red Cross message to him and two days later he was able to contact us but was unable to make the funeral. When we talked to him at that time, he expressed wishes that he be buried in Louisiana close to his grandfather," the elder Kassin said.
He said his son "liked video games and music. We worked on cars together. ... He liked taking care of people. He liked being a leader and being the center of attention. He liked to keep people happy and take care of them," he said.
Robert Paul Kassin was born Jan. 22, 1977, in Flint, Mich. After moves dictated by his father's Air Force career, the family eventually settled in Clovis, N.M., where Cannon Air Force Base is located.
At 19, Kassin left Las Vegas in 1996 for the Army and was later stationed in Germany where he met his first wife, Carey Kassin, who also was a soldier. They were married in 1998 and a year later, their son, Joseph Dakota Kassin, was born.
"He was a very good man and a very dedicated soldier. I'm very proud of him," Carey Kassin said from Petal, Miss., where she lives with their 6-year-old son.
"I see him every day, every time I look at our son. He (Joseph) told me every day, 'I'm so proud of my dad,'" she said.
They were divorced in December, and Robert P. Kassin married Judy Kassin, of Alabama, in February.
Sgt. Kassin will be buried near his grandfather, Aron Wilson, following a memorial service July 29 in Coushatta, La.