August 23, 2014

Elyria
Fog
72°F
test

Brookside grad hurt in blast in Afghanistan while delivering books to children

Serving in the Army in Afghanistan motivated former Sheffield Lake resident Kelly Hunt to return with the State Department to improve conditions.

Smoke rises after a car bomb explosion Saturday in Qalat, Zabul province, southern Afghanistan. Brookside High School graduate Kelly Hunt, a diplomat helping children in Afghanistan, was injured in the attack. (AP photo.)

Hunt

“She knew the risks, but she never really felt concerned about them,” said David Hunt of his sister, one of four State Department employees wounded in a Saturday suicide bombing in Afghanistan that killed five Americans and three Afghans. “They never scared her away.”

Hunt underwent surgery in Germany for serious head injuries and is in intensive care, according to her brother.

“She’s fearless, and if anybody can come back from these injuries, she’s the type of person who can,” said David Hunt, a Vermilion resident.

Kelly Hunt, 33, was part of a convoy delivering books to a new school in Qalat, the capital of Zabul province in southern Afghanistan, according to the State Department. David Hunt and Justin Schill, a high school classmate and friend of Kelly Hunt, said she is dedicated to improving education for Afghans and improving women’s rights in a nation where women have traditionally been treated as second-class citizens.

Kelly Hunt graduated from Brookside High School in 1998 and attended Kent State University, majoring in public relations, according to her Facebook page. She joined the Army in 2001, the year the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in response to the 9/11 attacks, according to her Linked In profile.

Hunt served as a spokeswoman and photojournalist and, after a tour in Afghanistan, was promoted to editor of the Fort Hood Sentinel. After her 2005 discharge, Hunt attended the University of Tennessee, receiving her master’s degree in journalism in 2008, and worked as a copy editor for the Knoxville News-Sentinel in 2007-09.

In 2009 through last year, Hunt was a spokeswoman for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency before being hired in July as a public diplomacy officer for the State Department. In her profile, Hunt wrote that her goal is to develop a “forward-thinking” approach to homeland security and American foreign policy.

Hunt’s courage and dedication have been an inspiration, Schill said.

“You don’t really think about how courageous somebody is and how intent she was on going over there and making a difference until something like this actually happens,” he said. “She’s a small, little woman (but) by any means she’s got probably a bigger heart than most of us.”

The Afghanistan war is America’s longest war, killing thousands of Afghans and 2,064 Americans through Tuesday morning, according to the Department of Defense.

“It’s crazy,” Schill said. “You don’t think about all that’s going on there until it hits close to home.”

Saturday’s attack illustrates the dangers for soldiers and civilians like Hunt. Secretary of State John Kerry in a Saturday news release called the suicide bombing a “despicable attack” and saluted those killed and wounded.

“I wish everyone in our country could see first-hand the devotion, loyalty and amazingly hard and hazardous work our diplomats do on the front lines in the world’s most dangerous places,” he said. “We honor their courage and are grateful for their sacrifices.”

Fundraiser

A fundraiser for wounded diplomat Kelly Hunt will be 7 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. April 20 at the Deja vu Nightclub, 400 Broadway, Lorain. The goal is to raise money to cover travel expenses for Hunt’s family to visit her in Germany, where she is hospitalized recovering from injuries from a Saturday bombing in Afghanistan. For more information, call Justin Schill, club
co-owner at (440) 787-9037.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.