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Rocket attack kills Vietnam veteran at Afghanistan air base

Albert Henry Haas, 64, loved his job as a civilian aircraft mechanic at Bagram Air Base, near the Afghanistan capital of Kabul.

Haas, an Army veteran of Vietnam, volunteered for duty at Bagram, where he worked on both helicopters and fixed-wing airplanes after decades as a aircraft mechanic in the United States.

"It was one last hoorah," said Haas' younger brother, Kenneth Haas, also of Belleville.

"He said the work was great. The food was great. The vacation time was great," Kenneth Haas said. "He was going on and on. And he said, 'They pay us for this.'"

Although Bagram is a frequent target of Taliban rocket and mortar attacks -- including one that killed four Americans in June -- Albert Haas did not believe he was in danger, according to Kenneth Haas.

"Al used to talk about it. He goes, 'But the rockets are from the old Russian era,'" Kenneth Haas said. "'So the motors are still good, but the warheads are usually duds.'"

Shortly after midnight on Nov. 29, a large rocket exploded in the barracks building where Albert Haas was sleeping, killing him and and a female civilian worker, Kenneth Haas said.

Albert Haas' employer, AAR Airlift, of Palm Bay, Fla., flew Haas' family to Dover Air Force Base, in Delaware, to meet the casket that brought the Belleville man home.

A visitation is set for 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at George Renner and Sons Funeral Home, 120 N. Illinois St., Belleville.

The funeral for Haas, a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Army and Army Reserve, is planned for Friday at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, in South St. Louis County.

So far the U.S. military has not released information about the attack that killed his brother, Kenneth Haas said.

"That's what we're all wondering, 'Why?" he said. "When contractors are killed over there, it hits the news right away."

U.S. Department of Defense sources contacted for this story did not immediately return requests for comment.

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