The international news of a bombing in Afghanistan has come home in a tragic way to southern Illinois.
NewsChannel 5 learned one of four Americans killed in an apparent suicide attack on Bagram air base was a soldier from the Pinckneyville area, about an hour and fifteen minutes southeast of St. Louis.
PFC Tyler Iubelt, 20, died Saturday morning in an apparent suicide bombing inside Bagram Air Force Base in northern Afghanistan.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, but how the bomber got inside the base remains under investigation.
Iubelt was a native of Perry County, where he is survived by a wife, daughter and other close relatives and extended family, including his parents.
On Monday, flags around the area were hung at half-staff in his honor, including outside Tamaroa Grade School, where he once attended and played sports.
Former teachers remembered Iubelt as a non-traditional student with a natural curiosity and passion for service.
“School may not have been the best fit sometimes for him, but if you needed anything, he would volunteer and would do a good job at it,” said Tamaroa District #5 Superintedent Phil Hamil.
Iubelt’s former junior high teacher, Cindy Opp, said, “Tyler pushed back a little bit. He asked the questions. He wanted to know why things were the way they were.”
According to his obituary, Iubelt graduated from Pinkneyville Community High School in 2015.
Within the next year, he was sworn into the United States Army, married his wife, Shelby Crews of DuQuoin, and became a father to Violet, who is now six months old.
Hamil said he kept up with Iubelt through social media occasionally. He said it seemed like he grew up right in front of his eyes. “He went from being a kid to a service member. It’s all just such a shock.”
Iubelt was a member of the 1st Calvary Division Sustainment Brigade.
He made various stops at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri and Ft. Hood, Texas before being stationed in Afghanistan.
He leaves behind a wife and infant son.
"Tyler stepped up at a time in his life when he needed to find direction. He stepped up to serve his country by joining the Army and I know that he was proud to make that step," said Sheriff Bareis. "I can guarantee our community is stepping up to give respect where respect is due," he said of plans still in the works to honor Iubelt.
In a post by Tamaroa Grade School, Iublet is remembered "for his quick wit and that twinkle he would get in his eyes when he flashed that grin at you!!"
In a message posted by a spokesman on Twitter, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast that killed Iublet and another service member, two U.S. contractors and wounded at least 14 others.
The attack comes days after another attack on a German consulate which killed at least six people and wounded over 100 others in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif. The extremist group said it was a "revenge attack" for recent U.S. airstrikes in the region.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the insurgent group, said the attack had been planned for four months.
Services are still pending. You can read Iubelt’s obituary here.