Damion Campbell, 23, Army sergeant

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Donna M. Robinson learned in an e-mail last week from her son, an Army medic serving in Afghanistan, that he was about to leave on a mission.

"He couldn't tell me where he was going but said once he returned, he'd tell me all about it. He would always do that," said Miss Robinson, of Woodlawn. "He e-mailed me again on Thursday asking about a PlayStation. That was the last time I heard from him."

Friday evening, she learned that her son, Staff Sgt. Damion Garland Osvaldo Campbell, 23, had been killed earlier in the day when his convoy was ambushed near Khayr Kot district, in Paktika province.

The Defense Department said Sergeant Campbell, with the 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment, based in Vicenza, Italy, was killed and four other soldiers were injured when an improvised explosive device detonated near their Humvee.

Sergeant Campbell, the son of a police officer, was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and was 7 when he moved with his mother to Maine Avenue in Northwest Baltimore. He attended Liberty Elementary School and Garrison Middle School and was a 2000 graduate of Forest Park High School.

"The military was definitely something he wanted to do. From day one - even as a child - he wanted to go into the service," said his aunt, Allison Robinson of Woodlawn. "This kid was full of energy and spunk. He wanted to learn, had a very inquisitive mind and loved school."

"He came from a long line of military and police officers and when he was 3 years old began playing with toy soldiers," his mother said.

Sergeant Campbell had been active in Boy Scouts and spent four years in the Army ROTC program at Forest Park, where he also played varsity lacrosse. After graduating, he enlisted in the Army that August.

Retired Army Col. Franklin W. Collins, who was Sergeant Campbell's ROTC instructor at Forest Park, said the young man thought a lot about his future and what would be best for him. He considered going to college or into law enforcement, but settled on the Army because of opportunities it would offer, including foreign travel.

"He had pretty good reasons for going into the Army," Colonel Collins said. "He thought it would be a good career for him. He wanted to serve his country. And he did that."

"We were never excited about his enlisting because we worried about wars," said his aunt. "But he loved the service - no matter what the circumstances - and was dedicated to it. He was adventurous and wasn't afraid of anything."

He completed basic training at Fort Benning, Ga., and was sent to Germany and later Italy. He was sent to Iraq in March 2003, but became ill and returned to Germany for hospitalization.

After recovering, he returned to Iraq, and since February had been in Afghanistan with his unit.

"He wanted to make the Army his career and re-enlisted earlier this year. Recently, he was promoted to staff sergeant," his mother said.

When Sergeant Campbell was home on furloughs, he enjoyed listening to music and spending time with his 11-year-old brother, Nicholas Z. Buaku.

"He enjoyed having fun. We'd go to the mall and play video games at home," said Nicholas, who attends Woodlawn Middle School. "He risked his life for his country, and I'm so proud of him."

Sergeant Campbell last returned home a year ago to join other family members in celebrating his mother's birthday.

"He attended church with me at Power of Faith Evangelistic Church. He left on Sept. 9, my birthday, and returned to Italy," his mother said.

"Damion was a person who was always upbeat, playful and happy. He'd e-mail me and say that everything was OK and not to worry. He knew his job and that's what he was there to do," his mother said. "He knew he could die, but he wasn't afraid."

Plans for a military funeral were incomplete yesterday.

Other survivors include his father, Yandell Campbell, and a sister, Yandeen Campbell, both of Kingston; and his maternal grandparents, Oswald Campbell of Baltimore and Olga Campbell of Trelawny, Jamaica.

Sun staff writer Lynn Anderson contributed to this article.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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