Oak Harbor grad killed in Iraq

OAK HARBOR Keith Kline left his mark on the wrestling mat and in the hearts of those who knew him. Kline, 24, a 2002 g
JACOB LAMMERS
May 24, 2010

OAK HARBOR

Keith Kline left his mark on the wrestling mat and in the hearts of those who knew him.

Kline, 24, a 2002 graduate of Oak Harbor High School, was killed early Thursday morning in Iraq, relatives said.

"I know he was in a convoy when it happened. The roadside bomb went off and that was it," said Mark Lipstraw of Oak Harbor. He said his brother, Allen Lipstraw, along with Keith's mother, Betsy Kline, raised Keith.

Lipstraw confirmed Kline was a member of the 82nd Airborne Unit based in Fort Bragg, N.C. Army personnel were with Keith's family Friday afternoon, he said. The family learned of his death Thursday evening.

Keith served three years and then re-enlisted, Lipstraw said. He had been serving in Iraq for three months.

"He was trying to better his life. Saving money from the military. You go in there to get an education, and all of a sudden you get the news to go there," Lipstraw said. "It's always a tragedy when a young person dies. I'm sure the Lord has a better plan for him or need for him than we did."

Lipstraw said Keith's family expects his remains will arrive home in seven to 10 days.

Keith was a member of a championship wrestling team when he was in high school, said wrestling coach George Bergman.

In 2002, Keith was an SBC champion and took sixth place at 103 pounds in the state tournament.

"If you knew Keith, you liked him. He had an infectious personality. He was a ball of fire," Bergman said. "I haven't gone more than a few minutes without thinking about him. It's like losing a member of your family."

Bergman said one of his fondest memories of Keith was when he was competing at a state wrestling match. Keith was losing by a score of 10-2, but then came back to win the match.

"He was a tough kid, hard worker," Bergman said. "He just never gave up."

Mark Lipstraw's son Josh Lipstraw considered Keith his cousin and remembers speaking with him the day before he died.

"He was doing pretty good. I was shocked. I didn't think it would ever happen to him," Josh Lipstraw said. "He treated me and my brother Jake like we were his own blood brothers."