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Editor's Picks: Friends Remember Kent Grad Killed in Afghanistan

Kent Patch is republishing the editor's picks for top stories of 2011 this week with brief updates.

Editor's Note: this year the Kent community lost native son and Theodore Roosevelt High School grad Adam Hamilton to the war in Afghanistan.

Below is one of the original stories, republished today as one of the editor's picks for top stories of 2011.

Rather than republish the breaking story, we wanted to run a piece with friends comments remembering Hamilton.

Friends Remember Adam Hamilton's Work Ethic, Playful Antics

June 1, 2011

By Alison Matas

Jordan Cottrell first met Adam Hamilton at basic training.

“We were marching in formation, and Adam and I ended up next to each other,” Cottrell said. “We were the two loudest people there, and from then on, we were best friends.”

Shortly after basic training ended, Cottrell, who is from Finlayson, MN, took a trip to Kent to meet Hamilton’s family.

“I found out where he got his caring heart from,” he said. “I will never meet a friend like him again.”

Hamilton after sustaining wounds from an improvised explosive device. He graduated from in 2007.

Hamilton's classmates said they share Cottrell’s feelings of loss.

Hamilton and Eddie Calhoun met in second grade and became fast friends. The two played football together, and by the time they reached high school, they were nearly inseparable.

“You wouldn’t see me without him and him without me,” Calhoun said. “That is my other half … I am proud to say he is my best friend, my brother.”

Through his friendships, Hamilton inspired people to live life to the fullest. “If he wanted to do something he did it, and if someone needed him he was there and never worried about getting into trouble,” former classmate LaTeefah Burns said. “He taught me how to let go and have fun.”

Hamilton’s former hockey teammate in Kent Craig Butler agreed. “The thing I respect most about Adam is, you know, every single day of his life he did what he wanted to do,” he said. “He was always good for a great laugh and a great time.”

Butler said this is one of the reasons he enjoyed getting to play with Hamilton.

“You (could) never leave a situation with Adam being present down in the dumps or with a frown on your face,” Butler said. “He had that ability to bring out the best in everybody.”

Beyond making them laugh, Hamilton also pushed his teammates to succeed.

“He’s the best teammate you could ever ask for,” Butler said. “He would make everybody work a little bit harder.”

Ryan Gontero, another hockey teammate, concurred.  “I'm happy that I got to watch and play with one of the greatest athletes (and) players I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.”

Off the ice and football field, where he also excelled, Hamilton was known for his school spirit.

Each year at Theodore Roosevelt High School, the week before the Kent-Ravenna football game students craft a Ravenna raven, hold a funeral for it and then burn it to symbolize that Kent’s team will beat Ravenna’s team. Brad Beck, a classmate of Hamilton's, said he will never forget his valiant effort to keep the Ravenna raven from getting stolen by a student wearing a Scooby Doo costume.

“That was the most hilarious yet brutal beat-down I think I have ever seen," Beck said. "It was all for the love of his team and his high school. I still laugh every time that the image of a cartoon dog getting pummeled at a pep rally runs through my head.”

Whether their memories are funny or serious, or whether they knew him for 10 years or two, Hamilton’s friends said they’re proud of him.            

“He was truly one of a kind — a loving, caring friend and an outstanding soldier,” Cottrell said.  “He is a hero.”

Hamilton’s family spent Memorial Day at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware waiting to retrieve his body.

Funeral arrangements will not be announced until after they return to Kent. Municipal flags have been lowered to half-staff in honor of Hamilton and will remain that way until after his funeral.

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