Air Force Master Sergeant Killed

Published July 11, 2007 by Colorado Springs Gazette.

An Air Force master sergeant who was born in Colorado Springs and spent his teen years in Coaldale died Monday from wounds suffered in a gunbattle near Herat, Afghanistan.

Master Sgt. Randy Gillespie, 44, was in Afghanistan with U.S. troops training the Afghan army, the Army said. Four Afghan soldiers were killed and another nine were wounded in the fight.

According to the Department of Defense, at least 345 U.S. soldiers have died in Afghanistan and Pakistan since Operation Enduring Freedom began in 2001.

“The military lost a good guy, but I guess God was ready for him,” said his mother, JoAnn Gillespie, who lives in Pueblo. “He was a wonderful husband, a wonderful dad and a wonderful son.”

Randy Gillespie’s widow, Lisa, and their four children live near Phoenix. Lisa Gillespie was unavailable for comment Wednesday. Randy Gillespie’s family has a long tradition of military service, dating to the Civil War when ancestors served with the Union and the Confederacy, his older brother, Rick Gillespie, said.

“We’ve had family in many, many wars,” Rick Gillespie, also of Pueblo, said Wednesday. “This time it was our turn, it was our turn to pay the price. I wish I could take his place.”

Mary Jo May, a spokeswoman from Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., where Randy Gillespie’s 56th Logistics Readiness Squadron is based, said, “He volunteered for everything.”

Randy Gillespie was in his second tour in Afghanistan and had served in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Germany and Portugal during his 24 years in the military, May said.

“The Luke family is closeknit, and this news greatly affects us all,” said Brig. Gen. Tom Jones, commander of the 56th fighter wing. “Master Sgt. Gillespie will be remembered here as a beloved husband and father, patriot, warrior, friend and a proud American who volunteered to serve in his nation’s Air Force.”

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