A soldier from Rupert was among five killed in Iraq this week when a bomb detonated under their armored personnel carrier.
Cleston C. Raney, 20, and the other four Fort Riley soldiers were in Habbaniyah, Iraq, when the bomb exploded Wednesday under their M-113. It was the deadliest day for the Army base, which has lost 35 soldiers since the war began.
Raney's family, also from Rupert, said that when Raney decided to join the military, they tried to get him to reconsider or at least postpone his enrollment.
"But once we realized the strength of his convictions, the family put our own fears on the back burner to support his sense of purpose and overwhelming need to make a difference 100 percent, " they said in a statement released through the Idaho National Guard.
Immediate family members did not release their names and said they did not want to be interviewed. Raney's aunt, Gloria Trivitt of Rupert, released the statement on their behalf.
"Ours is a time of mixed emotions. First and foremost, pride. Always pride for our boy's courage, honor and a belief in a level of duty we may never comprehend, " the family said.
Family members said they were angry at the situation and knew they would never get acceptable answers but mostly felt sorrow over Raney's death.
"It has left a deep heartache that makes it difficult to swallow or even breathe. Cleston was a quiet, respectful young man not yet old enough to buy his first beer or to put a coin in his first slot machine if that would have been his inclination, yet he was old enough to vote and to give his life for the numerous freedoms each of us as Americans take for granted each day, " they said.
Gov. Dirk Kempthorne asked Idaho residents to say a prayer for Raney and his family.
"Pfc. Raney was serving his country proudly, bravely and with honor. Idaho has lost an outstanding young man and a hero; a family has lost a loved one who carried the hopes of his generation, " Kempthorne said in a prepared statement. "Cleston died doing what he believed in, and he died in pursuit of freedom not only for Iraqi citizens, but for every American."
Family members said they hope for an end to American soldier deaths.
"Our hope now in the wake of our pain and devastation is that some drastic changes come soon so that not even one more American family has to experience the loss and desperate sadness that Cleston's untimely death has left us with , " they said.
The Defense Department identified the other four soldiers as 1st Lt. Doyle M. Hufstedler, 25, of Abilene, Texas; Spc. Sean R. Mitchell, 24, of Youngsville, Pa.; Spc. Michael G. Karr Jr., 23, of San Antonio, Texas; and Pvt. Brandon L. Davis, 20, of Cumberland, Md.
All were members of the 1st Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division.