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Hacienda Heights soldier William Gilbert killed on 1st Afghanistan tour

May 17, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Kris Ellenberg is grieving the death of her nephew, 24-year-old William Gilbert. The Hacienda Heights resident was killed this week while serving his first tour of duty in Afghanistan.

"I feel like I've not just lost a part of my family, but I've lost a friend, a really good friend of mine," she said.

Gilbert, Sgt. Jeffrey Baker from Hesperia and another soldier died when their unit was attacked with an improvised explosive device.

"And he'd been through so much adversity, but he never got down. He really always had his chin up," Ellenberg remembered.

Ellenberg and her two young daughters are struggling to find comfort as they remember Gilbert, nicknamed Willie, described as a fun-loving guy who was looking forward to the birth of his first child.

"His wife's due with their first baby in two weeks, a baby girl. He was going be there on Skype for the birth and then be home. He was supposed to be home in August," Ellenberg said.

Gilbert was just 14 when his own father died. Ellenberg says Gilbert was proud to join the Army and serve his country. She also says he was very close to his grandfather, who served in World War II.

"When I asked him about his favorite memories of my dad, after my dad passed away at 90, he said the times that he'd just been able to sit and talk with his grandfather that really meant a lot to him," she said. "He was just a sweet, sensitive, strong, fun -- everybody loved Willie."


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