Soldier’s memorial service Saturday

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Sgt. Karl Campbell dies in Afghanistan

By Lou Elliott Jones

Army Sgt. Karl A Campbell, 34, of Chiefland only had a short time left in Afghanistan before returning home on holiday leave to see his son Carl, 4, his wife and their children who were at Fort Campbell, Ky.

He had already been told that when his tour in the combat zone ended he would be assigned to Special Forces training. It was an opportunity the man trained as a Ranger in his first Army stint lobbied hard to win.

On Oct. 4 his dreams and service to this country ended in Babur Afghanistan.

A Department of Defense release said he died of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device while he was on footpatrol. He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 75th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Ky. 

On Saturday, family and friends will remember him in a service Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Mormon Bishop Owen Baynard will officiate at the service. There will be a reception following in the Cultural Hall on the church grounds and friends will be able to share stories about the decorated veteran.

Campbell’s mother, Audrey Campbell of Chiefland, said the sergeant’s wife will not be at the service but it will be videoed and presented to her. 

Throughout Levy County and at the State Capitol flags will be flown at half staff in his memory as ordered by Gov. Charlie Crist. 

Campbell’s mother said in a telephone interview she could not praise the military enough for the care shown for her son, his family and parents. She said the military picked up the tab for the family to travel to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware  to be there for the ceremony as the casket bearing the sergeant’s body arrived on American ground.

And she said the military will also be providing for their transportation and lodging when Campbell is laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date. 

The plans for Saturday call for a military honor guard, salutes from area veterans organizations and a motorcycle brigade from the Rolling Thunder Chapter made up of veteran motorcycle riders who accompany military funeral processions.

Campbell has a number of friends from Chiefland who have posted their comments on various web sites honoring the soldier. 

Karl Campbell started his schooling at Chiefland Elementary School, but unlike many of the students who stay together until they graduate from high school, his family moved away and he graduated from Fort Pierce Central High.

His mother said Karl Campbell went into the Army and he was very happy, even attending Ranger School at Fort Benning, Ga., in 2001.  “He has his Ranger tab which I had the pleasure of pinning on him,” Mrs. Campbell said.

After Campbell entered the Army in 1995, his parents returned to Chiefland in 1996. When Karl Campbell left the Army in 2003 it was to start a new life with wife Jennifer. 

“Karl and his wife came to live with me,” Audrey Campbell said. “They lived with me for six years.”

Her grandson, whom she calls “my little Carlie” spent the first three years of his life with his grandparents in Chiefland. 

Campbell’s mother said while with the 82nd Airborne at Fort Benning her son learned “to jump out of perfectly good airplanes, helicopters, whatever they would have him jump out of.”

It was that life that he missed in Chiefland. In 2006 he signed up for the Army Reserves and was attached to a unit based in Orlando. 

In 2009 Campbell re-entered active duty and was assigned to Fort Knox, Ky., for training. He was transferred to Fort Campbell in January and on June 15 he deployed to Afghanistan.

“He wasn’t over there long,” Campbell’s mother said.

While his mother makes plans for the service and accepts calls and visits from friends and the local media, she says she has not quite come to terms with her don’s death. 

“Not really. I keep telling myself that I’ll maybe wake up from this nightmare.. I tell myself I haven’t woke up yet, that it’s not a nightmare,” she said.

But at Dover AFB reality did snatch her heart,

“Especially when they took his casket off the plane,” she said. “That’s when it hit me.”

The strength for the evening arrival came from Jennifer Campbell. 

“My daughter in law handled it like a true soldier’s wife. She stood there ,saluted his casket from the time they carried it from the plane,” Campbell’s mother said. “She told me ‘Mom, he’s home. My hero’s home.’ “


Campbell is survived by his wife, Jennifer Marie Campbell of Fort Campbell, stepdaughter, Samantha Jo Goble, 17, stepsons, Joseph Lewis Goble IV, 15; Ty Elliott Bartlett, 11, Brea Nicole Campbell, 11, and Charles Andrew Campbell. 4. 

He is also survived by his parents, Arthur Ray Campbell Sr., grandparents, Charles and Lillian Wieder, all of Chiefland;  sisters,  Audrey Lynn Bowers of Morriston, and Tina Marie Thomas of Starke; brother Arthur Ray Campbell Jr. of Wilkes-Barre, Penn.; seven nephews, , four nieces, and one step-grandchild, an 8-month-old whom he had not yet met.