How this son is honoring his father 8 years after kissing his casket goodbye

Brandi Kettle, widow of Army Sergeant First Class Jeffrey D. Kettle receives the flag from his coffin from Brigadier General Joseph Dibartolome. Jeffery's 15 month old son, Logan, kisses his father's casket (right). (Arlington National Cemetery Wednesday, August 22, 2007)

Logan Kettle, a 9-year-old from College Station, Texas, knows a lot about loss, honor, and loyalty at his young age.

Logan’s father, Jeff Kettle, was a Green Beret that was killed in combat in 2007. Logan was 15 months old at the time.

“It’s been really tough,” Logan said. “I don’t know what it’s like to have a dad. Everyone else in my class has a dad. Their dads are so great, and I bet mine was greater.”

A few days after his father’s death, his father’s dress uniform jacket also disappeared, and Logan hasn’t seen it in over eight years.

When Logan’s uncle heard what happened to his brother’s jacket, he decided to do something about it.

“It just kind of hit me in the gut,” said Clay Kettle, a combat veteran. “I always wore my dad’s Air Force jacket.”

Using his brother’s service record and a picture of the uniform, Clay Kettle tried to recreate that jacket for his nephew. After a few months, the jacket was finished, and Clay presented it to Logan last week at the family’s home.

A WFAA8 reporter, who attended high school with Clay Kettle, heard about Clay’s attempt to recreate his brother’s jacket on Facebook, and decided to interview Kettle and his family.

The news crew was there when Clay Kettle presented the jacket to his nephew last week.

“I’ve got something,” Clay told his nephew.

“Wow,” Logan said. “That looks exactly like the one I haven’t seen yet.”

After presenting his nephew with the jacket, Clay Kettle explained to Logan that he also put the Bronze Star and Purple Heart on the uniform that his father received posthumously.

“I promise you, he died doing what he loved,” Clay told him.

Friends and family believe Clay Kettle and his brother were destined to join the military. Growing up, they spent hours pretending to be Rambo and Indiana Jones in their front yard.

“People would see us in the bushes and just say, ‘It’s just the Kettle boys,'” Clay recalled.

Once they were older, they both enlisted in the Army. Clay became a combat medic, and Jeff became a Ranger before joining the Green Beret.

Jeff won his first Bronze Star for finding a huge weapons cache.

“He wanted to be the best,” said their mother, Cindy Kettle. “He was tough, and the tougher the challenge, the more he wanted to go after it.”

In 2007, Jeff and his Special Forces unit deployed to Afghanistan, while Clay deployed to Iraq. On the day Clay re-enlisted for life, his brother’s unit left on what ended up being his final mission.

Jeff and three others were killed when they drove over a buried improvised explosive device as they drove through a dry river bed. Jeff was survived by his wife and two children.

While trying to recreate the jacket, Clay had trouble finding one final piece — Tunisian jump wings. He posted a note on Facebook asking his friends if they knew where he could find them.

A former classmate, Deanna Collier Thompson, found the wings on eBay after seeing Clay’s post.

When asked why it was so important to help, she replied, “There will never be a way to repay them for their loss, and Jeff’s service and sacrifice.”

For Clay, all the trouble he went through was worth it when his nephew asked him if he could put on the jacket.


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