- 21 years old
- Date of birth: Jan 1, 1989
- Date of passing: Nov 5, 2010
|Let the memory of SPC Blake be with us forever|
Spc. Blake D. Whipple, 21, of Williamsville, N.Y., died Friday Nov. 5 in Ghazni province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. Others in his unit were injured. He was assigned to the 7th Engineering Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y. His job in Afghanistan was to clear roadside bombs. He died from an explosion of an IED. Whipple was a 2007 graduate of Williamsville East High School. David Whipple, Blake's father, told” 2 On Your Side” reporters that his son was home on leave back in September, just one day after his birthday. "He was anxious to get back because, as he explained it, someone else has to pick up the slack, and I need to get back because those guys are picking up my slack right now."
Blake was a fun loving, always smiling young man who loved life and
was very proud of what he was doing for his country. He always led
prayer before a meal and before each mission. Blake was also very
competitive and loved playing games and pranks. His brothers said they
had some very intense games in their barracks at home and Afghanistan.
Blake also loved to golf, bowl, play baseball, go to Buffalo Bills
football games and spend time with his family. He has two brothers, a
sister in law and two nephews who miss him very, very much. Blake had
just turned 21 in Septemer of 2010 and was home on leave so we are so
thrilled that we got to see him before his death in November. We will
miss him forever and love him even more. Love you Blake forever and
always! Whenever he got the chance, Army Spc. Blake D. Whipple would use the Internet device known as Skype to talk to his parents in Amherst about his war experiences in Afghanistan. He tried not to upset them, but his parents knew their 21-year-old son was a combat engineer who spent much of his time clearing the roads of improvised explosive devices, also known as IED. It was just such a device -- a roadside bomb planted by insurgents -- that killed Whipple on Friday. "We knew Blake had a very dangerous job [but] he always kind of downplayed the danger, probably because he didn't want us to worry," the soldier's father, David Whipple, told The Buffalo News Saturday night. "We were a little worried about something he said during his last Skype conversation with us on Tuesday. "His father said Blake usually tried to stay bright and cheerful during chats with the parents, but at one point on Tuesday, he said: "It's getting a little dicey around here." "Basically, he told us that there was a lot more activity in the area with IEDs," David Whipple said. "Blake was a very brave young man. ... His job was to clear IEDs away from roads, and an IED is what killed him." Friday afternoon, an Army chaplain and two uniformed soldiers arrived to tell David Whipple and his wife, Kimberly, that their son was dead. Family members were still trying to come to grips with their loss Saturday. His father said Blake had spent time as a student at St. Bonaventure University, Erie Community College and Buffalo State College before joining the Army early last year. The news that he was joining the military came as a surprise, the family said. "He came home one day and suddenly told us, 'I'm going to talk to a recruiter, and I think I'm going to join the military,'" the father said. "He wanted to do something more immediate in his life, and wanted to help his country. "It would not have been our first choice for what we wanted him to do, but it was his choice, and we supported our son. From the look in his eye, I could tell he was dead serious about doing this." Whipple shipped out to Afghanistan in May. When his mother asked him how he felt about going there, "Blake just looked at her and said, 'It's my job,'" David Whipple recalled. He said his family had been told that he was out on a patrol with five other soldiers when the IED blast occurred. The other five survived. David Whipple said his son was born in Detroit, and that the family moved to Amherst in 1995 because of an employment opportunity for him. They moved to Baltimore in 2000, and back to Buffalo in 2006. Considered fun-loving and with a great sense of humor, Blake enjoyed playing baseball, football, hockey and video games. He also loved rock music and especially enjoyed having his own rock show on St. Bonaventure's student-run radio station during his one semester there, his father said. His parents are thankful that Blake was able to come home for a two-week visit from Afghanistan in September. "He was really happy to spend time with us and reconnect with old friends," David Whipple said. In addition to his parents, the soldier is survived by two older brothers, Sean Whipple and Brian Clyburn. His father said Army officials have been "tremendously compassionate and attentive" to the family in the past two days. And the family was overwhelmed on Saturday with all the reporters who wanted to talk to them about their son. "At first, I didn't know if I wanted to talk with the media," said David Whipple, a soft-spoken man who repeatedly fought back tears as he talked. "But then I thought, I want people to know about our heroic young son, a young man who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country. "I want people to know we are very proud of our son."
All Medals Received
Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Good Conduct Medal, National
Defense Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star,
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas
Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Combat Action Badge
All Awards Received
Combat and Special Skill Badge Basic Markmanship Qual Badge, Bar,
Weapon: Rifle (Inscription: Rifle) Expert
Overseas Service Bar
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