Word was received today that U.S. Navy Petty Officer Chad R. Regelin, 24, of Anderson was fatally injured about 11:15 a.m. PST Monday, Jan. 2, while serving as a bomb disposal expert in southern Afghanistan.
Parents Shirene and Scott Regelin of Anderson were visited with the sad news of their son’s death shortly after 2 p.m. Monday when four uniformed representatives of the U.S. Armed Forces showed up on their doorstep.
“My heart is absolutely breaking at this time!! I wish someone could tell me it is not true!!! I don’t think I will ever get the picture out of my mind of the four men standing at the door to give me the news. I just want him to come home and let me hug him. I honestly do not know how I am going to get through this!!” Shirene Regelin posted on Facebook at 8:18 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 3.
Within minutes, family and close family friends were responding with condolences and offers of assistance.
According to Justin Regelin, 31, also of Anderson, his youngest brother Chad Regelin had called the family from Afghanistan just an hour before the roadside bomb detonated.
“He called us while he was on watch. He was really upbeat because he had just gotten his orders to come back stateside on Feb. 15. He told us that he had about a week to go (in Kandahar) before they could helicopter in the replacement team,” Justin Regelin said today.
Shortly after the phone call ended, Chad Regelin and the rest of his team split into squads to do their routine patrols. A bomb explosion drew their attention to a spot beside a road just outside of the military base. While Chad Regelin and his teammates were sifting through the debris and bomb crater for any kind of forensic evidence that would link the bomb to the person or people who had made it, a secondary explosion from a “direct switch” device exploded, fatally injuring Chad Regelin, his brother recounted from a briefing the family received earlier today.
“He suffered some broken bones, but they believe he died from head injuries. They were able to airlift him out of there and he was conscious for about a half-hour before he died in a military hospital,” Justin Regelin said.
Chad Regelin’s body was flown to Germany and then to Dover Air Force Base outside of Washington, D.C., where military-trained personnel will prepare the body in a dress uniform before flying it home to Anderson. The process will take between four and five days, Justin Regelin said.
“Yesterday was pretty tough for the family,” Justin Regelin said today. “I’ve been through a time of sadness. It’s tough to lose your littlest brother. But he said he was at peace with what he was doing (as a bomb disposal expert.) That is what he loved to do.”
Arrangements are pending for a memorial service and burial at the Northern California Veterans Cemetery in Igo, Justin Regelin said.
“It is just hard to know that someone was waiting to pull the trigger that killed him,” Justin Regelin said of his brother.
Recognized by the USO in October as its 2011 Sailor of the Year, Chad Regelin was serving as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician with Mobile Unit Three in southern Afghanistan.
The USO recognized him for heroic actions during his first tour, from August 2010 through March 2011, when he “personally located and destroyed 24 IEDs (improvised exploding devices or roadside bombs), trained 13 commando engineers in counter-IED tactics and fought in more than 20 direct fire engagements,” according to the USO’s 70th anniversary banquet program given to guests at the Oct. 6 event in Washington, D.C.
Chad Regelin was unable to attend the awards ceremony as he was serving a second tour of duty in Afghanistan as a replacement for another bomb disposal expert who had been injured. It was during that second tour in Afghanistan that Regelin was killed.
However, his parents, sister and one of two older brothers made the trip back east to tour the White House, Pentagon and U.S. Capitol buildings prior to the banquet held at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.
Chad Regelin was stationed at the San Diego Naval Base.
A 2005 graduate of Anderson Union High School, Regelin enlisted in the Navy in 2006. While in high school, Regelin helped launch the school’s Surf Club and was named Outstanding Senior for the Anderson Cubs varsity football squad.
Petty Officer Regelin is the 1,865th American to die in Afghanistan … Ich hatt’ einen Kameraden