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From: Des Moines Register
Ottumwa airman killed in Afghanistan
Staff Sgt. Joseph Hamski, far right, shows Kyrgyz army explosive ordnance disposal technicians how a computer system works with an X-ray machine to see inside packages during an information exchange in March 2010. Hamski was killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan Thursday, military officials said Friday. SPECIAL TO THE REGISTER
An Ottumwa native was killed in Afghanistan Thursday while serving in the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Department of Defence announced Friday night.
Staff Sgt. Joseph J. Hamski, 28, died when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.
A second airman, Tech Sgt. Kristoffer M. Solebee, 32, of Citrus Heights, Calif, also died in the attack, officials said.
The incident occurred in the Shorabak district of Kandahar province.
Hamski graduated from Ottumwa High School in 2001. He briefly attended Iowa State University before joining the Air Force, said his grandfather, Ray Hamski, 83, of Duluth, Minn.
“He really found himself in the Air Force — he just blossomed into a super young man,” Ray Hamski said. “He was kind of a free spirit in high school and he just wasn’t a college man. But he really shaped up in the Air Force. It’s a devastating loss.”
Hamski was assigned to the 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, at the time of his death.
He previously served at Elgin Air Force Base, Cannon Air Force Base and Kusan Air Base. Hamski worked as an explosives and demolitions engineer and trained others how to detect and deactivate bombs.
“You can be thankful for all the lives he saved,” said Jennifer Hensley, Hamski’s sister. “We just sorry he was gone so soon.”
Hamski was the 82nd person with ties to Iowa to have died in Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere from combat, illness or accident since the Iraq war began in March 2003.
Hamski is survived by his wife, Air Force Staff Sgt. Maria Christina Hamski, Spangdahlem, Germany; mother, Mary Ellen Winston, a sixth-grade teacher in Ottumwa; sisters Jennifer Hensley of Shakopee, Minn., and Nicole Friedman of Blakesburg; and his brother Thomas Hamski of Nevada.
A memorial service for Hamski is pending at Rede’s Funeral in Ottumwa.