Explosive device in Afghanistan kills Visalia soldier Keith Williams, 111

Although just 19, Army Pfc. Keith Williams of Visalia had a sense of duty to the U.S. that ran deeper than most, said his sister Chelsea Sestini.”He loved his country so much,” Sestini, 23,, said about why her brother joined the Army.”He wanted to do everything he could to make sure he protected the people he loved, and he said he would die doing it.”On Thursday,Michael Kors Sale, Pfc. Williams’ life was cut short while on patrol along the Afghanistan border with Pakistan. The truck he was riding in hit an explosive device and he sustained a fatal head injury, Sestini said.The lifelong Visalia resident graduated from El Diamante High School in June 2013, where a candlelight vigil is planned for Saturday night. He joined the Army after high school and was deployed to Afghanistan in March.Pfc. Williams had lots of energy and was a “light” in any gathering, his sister said.”He was more full of life than anyone I’ve ever met. He had joy for everyone and he loved to make people laugh. He could have been a comedian.”A favorite memory for Sestini: His impersonations, especially of Sean Connery.Pfc. Williams could find the fun in anything — even being duct-taped from shoulders to feet, said close friend Martin Sustaita, 20 of Visalia.One day the duo,, determined not to be bored, decided on a challenge: Sustaita taped his friend, who had to find a hidden paper clip and, holding it in his mouth, cut himself free. The athletic Pfc. Williams succeeded, Sustaita said: “It was pretty impressive.”Pfc. Williams lived an active life, enjoying activities like drumming, surfing, snowboarding and longboarding, Sustaita said. He had plans to study physical therapy after returning from his deployment.Pfc. Williams and Sustaita talked via Skype just a few hours before the fatal accident. Pfc. Williams told him he thought he’d be sent home in October instead of December. “He was just saying, ‘Man I’m so excited, I get to come back early. I miss everybody.’ “Upon hearing that Pfc. Williams, his “brother” and best friend,, was dead, Sustaita said, “I grabbed my laptop and opened up Skype, just hoping he’d be there.”During their last talk, the two made plans for Pfc. Williams’ return: A trip to Six Flags Magic Mountain theme park and going to see his favorite band, Crown the Empire, in concert for the first time.The friends had planned to Skype again Friday morning, when Sustaita was going to report when and where their beloved metalcore band would play.Sustaita plans to attend one of their shows for his best friend. Pfc. Williams will be there in spirit “with a smile on his face, and hopefully not flicking us in the nose. He’s there with us all the time now, more than he was before.”He said Pfc. Williams wouldn’t want people to feel sad about his death. Sestini said the same.”He would always tell me it is stupid to cry,” his sister said. “I know he would want us to be happy and proud of him. … He died for his country, and that’s probably the most honorable thing he did in his whole life. He knew there was a risk, and he was just 19 years old, and he was willing to take it.”Pfc. Keith Williams Age: 19 Born: Dec. 18, 1994 Died: July 24, 2014 Occupation: U.S. Army soldier Survivors: Mother Debbie Tuttle, father Frankie Williams, stepmother Tara Williams, stepfather Michael Tuttle, sisters Samantha Williams and Chelsea Sestini, all of Visalia; grandmother Jean Painter of Australia, two nieces and two nephews Tentative memorial service: 10 a.m. Aug. 9 at Visalia First Assembly of God, 3737 S. Akers St. Candlelight vigil: 8:30 p.m. Saturday at El Diamante High School, 5100 W. Whitendale Ave., Visalia
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6386, or @CarmenGeorge on Twitter.

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