A 19-year-old Army soldier from Visalia has been killed in combat in Afghanistan, the Pentagon announced.
Pfc. Keith Williams was killed Thursday in Kandahar province near the border with Pakistan.
Williams and another soldier, Staff Sgt. Benjamin Prange, 30, of Hickman, Neb., were killed when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb, the Defense Department said. Both were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, from Ft. Carson, Colo.
"As soon as I saw the chaplain, I knew it. I knew my son was gone," Frank Williams, a Navy retiree, told the Visalia Times-Delta. "We had just sent him a care package with jerky and some snacks. He loved getting that stuff. He was such a fun-loving person who enjoyed life."
Williams' sister, Chelsea Sestini, 23, told the Fresno Bee that her brother loved his country and wanted to help protect it, even if it meant risking his life.
A friend of Williams, Martin Sustaita, 20, told the newspaper that he had talked with Williams via Skype just hours before he was killed.
He said Williams was excited that he might be returning home in October, not December as once scheduled. "He was just saying, 'Man I'm so excited, I get to come back early. I miss everybody,'" Sustaita said.
Members of Williams' family said they plan to go to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware this weekend to await the return of his body.