Petty officer 2nd Class Kevin R. Bewley was from the little town of Hector, Ark. — but he was among the thousands of enlisted Navy personnel who for a year or two make Whidbey Island their home.
Petty Officer Bewley, 27, died Monday while performing one of the more dangerous duties in Iraq.
He was part of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team, and he died of wounds suffered when a bomb detonated while he was conducting operations in Salah ad Din province, said the Navy.
Petty Officer Bewley was a member of EOD Mobile Unit 11, based at the Naval Air Station at Whidbey Island. So far, out of 160 members in the group, six have been killed in Iraq, said a spokeswoman for the base.
His father, Ron Bewley, of Hector, said, "Let me tell you, man, it's hard to bury your boy when he gets killed in Iraq. ... My son's name is Kevin Ronald Bewley. He was born April 18, 1980. He was born at St. Mary's Hospital in Russellville, Ark. He weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces. I'm his daddy."
Petty Officer Bewley was part of a tight-knit group of EOD members, said his brother, Jay Patrick Bewley, 32, a San Francisco consultant.
"It's very much a brotherhood in his unit. They were all transplants," said Jay Bewley.
The brothers loved to travel together; they made a driving trek to the Arctic Circle.
"We lived our lives with no regrets. We took a trip at every opportunity. We did things together. There was nothing left unsaid. It was just the way we lived," Jay Bewley said.
After first joining the National Guard, Petty Officer Bewley joined the Navy in November 2001. He already had served a deployment in Iraq in 2006. "He literally had disarmed hundreds of bombs. Each one he disarmed saved someone's life," Jay Bewley said.
In addition to his brother and father, Petty Officer Bewley is survived by his mother, Connie Whitaker of Greenbrier, Ark.; and his daughter, McKinnzie Bewley of San Antonio.
Although the Navy news release said Petty Officer Bewley died when a bomb detonated, his brother said the Navy told him Bewley had disarmed two bombs when there was small-arms fire.
"That's important," said the brother. "He did his job right."
Services will be held in Arkansas. Details are pending.
I remember this kid working in the local grocery store and didn't even know he'd joined the Navy, small town kids go to school and move to the "big city" quite often. This is not the news you want to hear from such, My Prayers to Petty Officer Bewley and his Family. Thank you for your service to the country, I'm so sorry it cost you so much.