Local family remembers Marine killed Friday
PADUCAH, KY- Kathy Wooten was counting down the days until she could wrap her arms around her nephew and give him a hug.
"I believed when Brad came home in December we would have a big celebration and welcome him back home."
Wooten's voice begins to tremble as she continues, "Never in my life would I believe the welcome he got home would be at Dover Air Force base in a flag covered coffin."
Her nephew, Sgt. Bradley Atwell, 27, was killed Friday in Afghanistan. Military officials say 15 insurgents, disguised as U.S. officers came onto his Camp Bastion base that evening. The attack killed Atwell, another marine, and wounded 9 others.
On Tuesday, NATO announced they would be suspending all missions with Afghan troops because of a spike in a number of so called "insider" attacks.
Kathy Wooten's brother is Atwell's father, Victor and they grew up in Brookport, Illinois. She still lives in Massac County. She spoke to her nephew just a few days ago. She said since Atwell had first been deployed to Japan the two had grown closer. She said she was no longer his aunt, but his friend.
Uncle David Atwell also lives in Massac County. During a phone interview from Dover Air Force Base, he stressed the importance of God, country, and family in his nephew's life. He called him "a marine through and through"
'Brad,' as he was known, was so meticulous when it came to his uniform- his family remembers him measuring the top of his hair, just to make sure he met company standards.
His latest mission, his uncle said was not an assignment, "He volunteered for this mission in Afghanistan. That was just the way he saw it, if he was going to get the respect of those he was training he'd have to have been thru what some of them had been thru."
It was a mission that would wrap up in December and then for his nephew, a newlywed, life would really begin.
"He was planning to have children once he got out, that was his plan," David Atwell said.
"That wasn't God's plan," Kathy Wooten said later.
It is why she is choosing to remember not the way her nephew is coming back, but, the way he left.
"It looks as if he's probably kneeling to pray before he got on the plane. That's what I want to think," she said, rubbing the corners of a now-treasured picture.
Sgt. Atwell was an aeronautics electrician based in Yuma, Arizona. His parents and wife, Danielle live in Kokomo, Indiana.
Funeral plans have not yet been finalized.