Clovis soldier killed in Afghanistan

Courtesy photo
Robert Paul Kassin, 29, of Clovis was killed Sunday in Afghanistan when his unit came under fire, according to the Army.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

A Clovis soldier killed Sunday in Afghanistan was helping to rebuild communities in the war-torn country, his father said.

Sgt. Robert Paul Kassin, 29, died near Larzab in Afghanistan’s Zabul province, Army officials said. He was killed when his platoon was attacked by small-arms fire while on patrol, according to an Army news release.

The soldier’s father, Robert Joseph Kassin of Clovis, said his son’s unit had recently reconnected water and power in an area devastated by bombs.

The unit had built three schools for Afghanistan children, one in a community that had never had a school before, Kassin told his parents a couple of months into his tour in Afghanistan.

“He was proud to be a part of that,” Robert Joseph Kassin said.

Robert and Lucia Kassin received news of their son’s death Monday morning. Army officials informed them at their home.

The younger Kassin was shot twice, family members were told.

Kassin was assigned as an infantryman in the southern Afghanistan region, according to the Army’s news release.

Kassin’s father said he had volunteered for the deployment and re-enlisted a few weeks after he arrived in Afghanistan.

He had planned to make the military his career, his father said.

“He was very proud to serve. He wanted to be there — he was proud to support his country,” the senior Kassin said.

The oldest of three children, Robert Paul Kassin married in February. He has a 7-year-old son in Mississippi and two stepdaughters, 6 and 12, living with his wife in Alabama.

The soldier’s sister, Bethaney Beach, said the family will be going from Clovis to Coushatta, La., in coming days for the funeral service.

A memorial service in Clovis is being planned after they return, family members said.

The younger Kassin was born Jan. 22, 1977, in Flint, Mich., into a military family. His father was stationed in several locations, leaving England in 1990 when he was assigned to Cannon Air Force Base.

After the senior Kassin retired, they made Clovis their home.

Attending Clovis schools from junior high through high school, the younger Kassin left the area just before his senior year to live with family in Las Vegas, Nev., his mother said. It was there he enlisted in the Army.

Her son’s decision to join the Army was no surprise to the family, Lucia Kassin said.

“He always looked up to his dad for being in the military — he always believed in that and wanted to do that too. He said (joining) the Army put him on the front lines and actually doing something. He was young and had the attitude, ‘Let’s go over and kick some butt.’

“He’s always been very protective, and he wanted to take over where Dad left off when he retired. Dad wasn’t going to be protecting the nation and he was going to take his place,” she said.