Spc. Chad Groepper, 21, of Kingsley, died Sunday morning in Diyala Province as a result of wounds suffered from small arms fire, family members said. Groepper was assigned to 2nd Battalion 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division of Fort Lewis, Wash.
Groepper was the 65th person with Iowa ties to die in Iraq or Afghanistan and is one of 3,972 members of the U.S. military who have died since the beginning of the Iraq war since March 2003.
Groepper had graduated from Kingsley-Pierson High School in December 2004 and enlisted in the Army 12 days later, said his mother, Darcy Groepper. She and her husband, Dave, were notified of their son’s death by Army soldiers on Sunday, she said.
He wasn't scared of anything," Dave Groepper told The Associated Press. "That's why he was infantry." The father called Chad Groepper an "action figure" who always wanted to be in the front line.
Groepper's sister Denae, 26, of Granger, Iowa, remembers her kid brother as "a natural daredevil."
"A dirt bike, a four-wheeler, it didn't matter," she said. "Chad loved them all. He said they helped him to relax," Denae said with a laugh.
He had been serving in Iraq for nearly one year with an Army infantry unit and was scheduled to return to the United States as early as May.
Groepper enlisted in the Army after graduating in 2004 from Kingsley-Pierson High School. He leaves behind his wife,Stephanie and 4-month-old daughter, Clarissa.
Groepper's unit had been scheduled return to the United States as early as May. "We'd just been counting the days until he came home," his mother said.
His funeral will be at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday 2/27 at Kingsley-Pierson High School.