Northwest High School grad died serving country in Afghanistan

08/20/2010 11:01 PM

10/09/2011 11:13 AM

Editor's note: The report was originally published in the Star-Telegram on Aug. 21, 2010.

When Benjamen Chisholm enlisted in the Army -- as an infantryman, no less -- it surprised absolutely no one who knew him.

"He called me one day and said, 'Guess what I did?'" said his grandmother, Annie Reynolds. "'You enlisted,' I said. He said, 'Yes, I did.' I just knew."

He had made no secret from about the fifth grade on that he saw himself wearing a uniform as a grown man. He participated in Junior ROTC in high school and the Young Marines, too. "That was his dream," said his mother, Linda Reynolds.

Pfc. Chisholm's dream ended early in his career. The 24-year-old Northwest High School graduate was killed Tuesday in the Kunar province of Afghanistan when his military vehicle rolled over after a roadside bomb explosion. Killed at the same time was Pvt. Charles M. High IV, 21, of Albuquerque.

Both men belonged to 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry, part of the storied 101st Airborne Division.

Pfc. Chisholm's mother, who lives in Fredericksburg, said her son was manning the 50-caliber machine gun from the turret when the explosion flipped the vehicle.

Pfc. Chisholm shipped out for Afghanistan in late May, his first deployment. Just two weeks before, he had married a fellow soldier, Spc. Amber Ferguson, who left for Afghanistan shortly after that. They were assigned to outposts about 80 miles apart.

After meeting his body at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Ferguson returned to Texas with Linda Reynolds on Thursday. They are planning his services in Fredericksburg through Schaetter's Funeral Home.

The death of Pfc. Chisholm brings the war to Tarrant County again. The last casualty with Tarrant County ties was Army Spc. Joseph M. Lewis, 26, who was reared in Bedford and killed in Afghanistan in November.

Pfc. Chisholm was born in Silver Spring, Md., and spent most of his early years in Colorado and Utah. He moved to Flower Mound in 1998. He attended schools in Flower Mound, but when the family moved to Haslet, he attended and graduated from Northwest High.

Before enlisting, his mother said, he wanted to get to know his father better, so he moved to Oregon for a few years. He returned to the Fort Worth area in 2007 and enlisted in the Army the next year.

He took very little in life seriously. His family compared him to actor Jim Carrey, always ready to make people laugh with a comment or facial expression. Two of his friends in the Fort Worth area -- Josh Wahlen, 25 and Emily Clarkson, 21 -- agreed that he was fun-loving but was deeply committed to joining the service.

"I would rather give my life for my country than let some other man die because I wasn't there," Clarkson said he had told her.

Because he loved to volunteer at the Rocky Top Therapy Center in Keller, which provides equine therapy for disabled people, his mother asked that donations be made there in his name.

Pfc. Chisholm is also survived by his father and stepmother, Glenn and Karma Chisholm of Oregon; two sisters, Alyssa Breuel of Lewisville and Tammy Breuel of Fredericksburg; and a brother, Jay Breuel of Fredericksburg.

Staff writer Mitch Mitchell contributed to this report.

Chris Vaughn, 817-390-7547

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