SOUTH JORDAN A Utah family learned early Thursday that their 25-year-old son had been killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.
By afternoon, flags waved in the family's yard to honor the life of Sgt. Jesse Blamires, who had served with the Army's 82nd Airborne Division. Red, white and blue posters also were duct-taped to the family's home. "Land of the Free, Because of the brave," one glittering poster read. "Thank you, Jesse," read another.
Blamires was one of seven people killed Wednesday when an Army CH 47-Chinook crashed after it was apparently shot down by Taliban militants, an attack that killed everyone on board five U.S. soldiers, a Canadian and a Briton, NATO officials said.
NATO said troops going to the crash site in southern Helmand province were ambushed by enemy fighters, and the unit called in an airstrike "to eliminate the enemy threat." NATO officials did not say if the troops were from the U.S.-led coalition, NATO's force or the Afghan army. One civilian was injured by gunfire.
Blamires, a Skyline High School graduate, had recently been promoted to crew chief and hoped to one day go to officer school and become a pilot, his father, Craig Blamires, said Thursday.
The military, for Jesse Blamires, was a way of leaving the nest to grow up and become a man, his father said.
The son was well-respected by his fellow soldiers and his commanders, and was known to take extra shifts and help others in need, Craig Blamires said.
Jesse Blamires, who grew up in Sandy, leaves behind a wife, Kim, and two young daughters, 5 years old and nine months. The family is living in Fort Bragg, N.C., where Jesse Blamires was stationed.
Jesse Blamires' Afghanistan tour was his second deployment. Between 2005 and 2006, he served in Iraq, family members said.
Sandra Blamires said the last time she embraced her son was during summer 2006. Since then, the family has contacted him by mail and occasionally by telephone.
They had hoped to see him during the holiday season, but his Christmas leave was canceled and his tour extended, his mother said.
"We're just very proud of him and the man that he became, how he wanted to go from mechanic to pilot," she said.
Jesse Blamires was one of six children. He had four brothers and one sister.
Craig Blamires said some of his fondest memories of his son revolve around Scouting. The father and son would often go into the wilderness to ponder and relax.
While members of the press talked with the grief-stricken family Thursday, neighbors gathered nearby to talk and cry. Neighbor Becky Pugmire, who was gathered in the evening light with her family and a group of girls, said she knew Jesse Blamires his entire life.
The soldier was always very energetic and hard-working, she said. He always held firm to his beliefs and was very excited about his family and serving in the military.Memorial services for Jesse Blamires have not yet been planned, said Dan Rascon, an LDS bishop who is acting as a spokesman for the family. The soldier's body may be taken to North Carolina.
Comment on this story Contributing: Associated Press