Services set for soldier

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

The Clovis family of a soldier slain in combat in Afghanistan has planned a local memorial service Sunday.

Full military honors for Sgt. Robert Paul Kassin, including a flag presentation to the family and a 21-gun salute, will be provided by the Cannon Honor Guard, according to Cannon Air Force Base officials.

Bethaney Beach, Kassin’s sister, said the service is to be a celebration of Kassin’s life that their family wants to share with the community.

“Whoever has known Robert, knows our family or has known someone who died in war, or people who have been in war are welcome,” Beach said.

Kassin, 29, was killed Sunday near Larzab in southern Afghanistan when his platoon was attacked by small-arms fire while on patrol, according to a U.S. Army news release.

Funeral and burial services will take place late next week in Coushatta, La., where Kassin’s grandfather is buried, family members said.

Military honors will again be performed in Louisiana for Kassin’s widow, Judy Kassin, who will not be present for Sunday’s memorial, Beach said.

Kassin joined the Army in 1996 and had been stationed at Fort Polk, La., before deploying to Afghanistan.

Since news of her brother’s death, the phone at her parents Clovis home has been ringing off the hook, Katrina Najera said.

The calls range from news organizations wanting interviews and information to old friends and veterans calling with messages to lend support.

They don’t mind, Najera said. The high amount of activity is helping family members get through the days. It is when she goes home at night and the quiet sets in that she begins to miss her brother, she said.

“(Being busy) keeps our minds off the hard part — the sorrow.”

Clovis was her brother’s home in his heart, Najera said. No matter where he went he always came back to visit.

Her brother always made it clear he joined the Army because he wanted to defend and protect his nation, she said.

“It’s about his life and what he did. We were proud of him and he was proud of what he was doing,” Najera said.

“We’re not the only ones going through this. Everyone should hear it — everyone should see it. We wouldn’t have honored him had we not made it known what he did honoring them (the people).”

• Sgt. Robert Paul Kassin memorial service — 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Highland Baptist Church.