Mokena soldier among five killed by apparent friendly fire - FOX 32 News Chicago

Mokena soldier among five killed by apparent friendly fire

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A 19-year-old soldier from Mokena was among five American troops killed in an apparent friendly-fire coalition airstrike in southern Afghanistan.

Aaron Toppen died doing what he loved.

“He told me he was going on a mission, it was going to be okay mom, I'm with the best men there are. I love you and that was it,” said Pam Toppen, Aaron’s mother.

Those were the last words to his mom Pam before Aaron deployed to Afghanistan in March. She said he wanted to serve his country since grade school.

“So this was serving, following his dream and I'm proud of him that he followed his childhood dream, I just wish it wouldn't of been…,” Pam said while crying.

Today an army representative visited the Toppen's home. The Defense Department said it was likely friendly fire that killed Aaron and four other soldiers.

Neighbor Larry Bettenhausen, a Vietnam Veteran, encouraged Aaron to learn all he could.

“He's going to be remembered as one great, young, good American, honest, truthful and a hard-working young boy,” said Bettenhausen.

Aaron joined the army before graduating from Lincoln Way East High School last year. Two months later he began basic training.

On Memorial Day, his mother, girlfriend and others took out a full page ad in the local paper to show Aaron how proud of him they were.

“We'd rather be proud with him standing here next to us, but yes of course we are proud of him, there will be a hole in our lives for all of the rest of ours, but he will stay where he is today 19-years-old in our hearts and our minds,” said Jack Winter, Aaron’s uncle.

“He was a fun-loving kid, loved people, loved being around people totally respectful and loved his fishing, getting in the mud and doing whatever any boys would like to do,” added Pam.

As his family deals with what they call an unbelievable tragedy, they thanked everyone for all the support.

“The loss we feel today is more difficult than you can imagine, all the thanks we feel to have had him are infinite,” said Winter. “God speed to you Aaron Scott Toppen.”

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