Hero’s tags still close to friend’s heart
A Schofield soldier's best friend recalls his honesty and the meaningful memento
The clink of Schofield Barracks soldier John Kyle Daggett's dog tags are an endearing reminder to best friend Jamie Patasin.
She's been wearing them ever since Daggett, 21, was injured by a rocket-propelled grenade in Baghdad on May 1.
"He gave me his extra set," said Patasin, 20, by telephone from Phoenix yesterday. "I've had them with me this whole entire time. They clink all the time. It means a huge thing to me."
Army Sgt. Daggett, of Phoenix, died Thursday at a hospital in Halifax, Canada. The cause was complications from injuries sustained in the Baghdad attack, the Department of Defense said.
A fire-team leader and Army Ranger, Daggett was assigned in November to the 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks. He was the eighth member of the 2nd Stryker Brigade to die in Iraq since the unit arrived there last December.
Patasin, an Arizona State University student, recalled "freaking out" when she heard Daggett was injured in the attack. "But for some reason I had it in my head that he could pull through because he's such a strong fighter," she said. "He was actually doing really, really well in the hospital. ... It was really hard."
On May 5, a medical team left Iraq to transport Daggett to Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C., but landed in Canada when his condition declined, the Defense Department said.
Daggett became comatose after developing septic shock, Patasin said. His family and a girlfriend he started dating this year flew from Phoenix to be with him and were with him when he died, she said.
"He was probably the most honest-hearted person I ever met," Patasin said.
Patasin and Daggett, known as Kyle, had been friends since freshman year in high school. While in Iraq, he called her sometimes twice a week.
"He was just saying over in Iraq it was crazy, and he was always having close calls," Patasin recalled.
Born Sept. 30, 1986, Daggett grew up in Phoenix and graduated from Pinnacle High School where he played football for four years.
"He worked hard to put himself in the position of starter and a linebacker on our defense," his former coach, Dana Zupke, told the Associated Press. "Every day, he came to practice with a positive attitude and can-do attitude ... he was just that kind of kid."
An avid outdoorsman, Daggett loved hunting, fishing and adventure. He went camping and rafting with friends, once calling an elk down to the campsite, Patasin said. He would hunt in Montana where he father lives.
"He was so intelligent about the outdoors," Patasin said. "Anything to do with outdoors, he was pretty much doing it."
After graduating from high school, he joined the Army with a cousin in June 2005. He was serving his first tour in Iraq.
Daggett planned to return to school after finishing his service in the Army, Patasin said.
He is survived by his father Jack Daggett, his mother Colleen Czaplicki , stepfather Paul Czaplicki, older sister Kendall and two step-sisters.
In Phoenix, Daggett's dog tags continued to comfort Patasin. He gave them to her last summer to remember him while he was in Iraq.
"It's like having a piece of him with me all the time," she said. "They hang down low right by my heart and I like that."