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Father of two latest Utahn to die in war on terror
SOUTH JORDAN - He survived a military tour in Iraq, but he had a feeling that his time might be running out.
U.S. Army Sgt. Jesse Blamires called his wife, Kimberly, from Afghanistan less than three weeks ago, on Mother's Day. He told her he was "nervous about things" on his second tour, and they needed to discuss their plans if he died. He wanted to be buried next to his "Grandma Hansen" in Salt Lake City.
"They both knew something was going to happen," said Blamires' cousin, Celeste Hansen.
Blamires, who grew up in Salt Lake City's suburbs, was one of five U.S. soldiers killed Wednesday in Afghanistan when an Army CH 47-Chinook helicopter crashed, according to The Associated Press. The father of two was 25.
The helicopter was reportedly shot down by Taliban militants in the country's Hemland province, an opium-growing region that recently has been the site of heavy fighting, according to AP. Two other soldiers, a Briton and a Canadian, also were killed in the crash.
U.S. military officials Thursday morning delivered the news to Kimberly and their daughters - 5-year-old Kelly and 8-month-old Danika Leah - at their home in Fort Bragg, N.C. She then called her husband's parents, Sandra and Craig Blamires, in South Jordan.
Blamires' parents hadn't heard their son's voice since he left for Afghanistan in January. They hadn't seen him since he visited Utah last summer for his brother's wedding. And even though he is gone, they know "he's in a better place."
"This was his choice . . . and I'm honored that he did so," said Craig Blamires, his swollen eyes filled with tears. "He developed into a man I'm very proud of."
Craig Blamires, who also served in the military, said the memories he will hold closest are those of he and his son camping and attending national Boy Scouts of America events.
"I lost my camping buddy," he said several times while holding on to his wife during an interview with the media Thursday.
Jesse Blamires, a 1999 Skyline High School graduate, joined the military about a year after finishing school. He wanted to make a career out of it and was hoping to become a helicopter pilot, family members said.
He was also planning a trip to Utah after his return in August. He was hoping to go camping.
Rick Hansen, 30, was looking forward to seeing his younger cousin, who always was smiling. He and his wife, Celeste Hansen, are going to miss his e-mails filled with jokes.
"He made everybody laugh," Hansen said. "He brought out the cheer in everybody."
Hansen said he is going to remember a lot. Blamires used to call him to talk about his latest "toys," such as his new car stereo or big-screen TV.
Jesse Blamires was not a hunter. He wasn't into sports. He loved animals and once nursed a wild bird back to health. He loved practicing Capoeira, a Brazilian form of martial arts.
And he adored his two little girls but was hoping to keep trying for a boy. He wanted a camping buddy, too.