From Jamaica to Brooklyn to Death in Iraq

Kimel Watt, born in Jamaica, felt stuck in Brooklyn and wanted to see the world. So he joined the army. Last month, a roadside bomb killed the 21-year-old sergeant in Baghdad. He was made a U.S. citizen, posthumously.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Army Sergeant Kimel Watt was supposed to become an American citizen today. Instead, this soldier born in Jamaica was given his U.S. citizenship at his funeral last month. He was just 21 when he was killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad.

NPR's Jack Zahora has this remembrance.

JACK ZAHORA: Kimel Watt wanted to see the world and was glued to footage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ms. NAOMI WATT (Mother of Kimel Watt): I see that he really love it.

ZAHORA: Naomi Watt says she didn't try to stop her son from enlisting because of his strong will. She says it was that characteristic that kept him in school and away from drugs while some of his friends were getting in trouble, although she takes some of the credit.

Ms. WATT: I'll always remember that part all the time - telling me I like to go in this business. And I said, I have to know your business.

ZAHORA: For three and a half years, she supported Watt as he served in South Korea, Germany and then Iraq. There, his unit was in charge of moving supplies.

Ms. WATT: He was giving out water and food to the Iraqi people.

ZAHORA: If you click on Watt's MySpace page, his profile plays music by rapper 'Lil Wayne.

(Soundbite of music)

'LIL WAYNE (Rapper): (Singing) You can never play me. I'm from uptown, baby.

ZAHORA: There's also a picture of Watt dressed in fatigues. A member of his platoon says Watt was a soldier's soldier, a man that could be competitive yet crack jokes to keep the mood light. But on June 3rd, Watt was killed when his Humvee struck a roadside bomb in Baghdad. Family and friends post messages on his MySpace profile expressing their disbelief that he's gone.

Mr. HENRY BELL(ph): I never thought I would see the day where I had to say that he died.

ZAHORA: Henry Bell lives only a few houses down from Watt's Brooklyn home. He opens up a laptop and browses through pictures of them partying.

Mr. BELL: He had a good time that night.

ZAHORA: But Bell remembers that during that time it wasn't only fun and games. He says Watt didn't want to go back to Iraq.

Mr. BELL: He told us, you know, it was getting crazy out there, like he saw people dying, he was starting to get nervous.

ZAHORA: Bell stares at another photo of Sergeant Kimel Watt smiling with his friends sitting on the same front porch that he joined the Army to get away from.

Jack Zahora, NPR News.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.