Mideast edition, Saturday, June 30, 2007

STUTTGART, Germany — What can you say about Kid Rock?

The soldier, not the rocker.

“Clifton loved what she did,” Pvt. 1st Class Casey Slate said. “She loved her job. She loved her platoon. She loved the people she worked with. ... Everybody knew Clifton.”

Soldiers packed Patch Chapel on Friday for a memorial service for Cpl. Karen N. Clifton, aka Kid Rock, of 1st Platoon, 554th Military Police Company, who was killed June 21 in northeast Baghdad.

Clifton, who was 22, was nicknamed because of her resemblance to the rock star from Detroit, and the nickname stuck because it fit.

Clifton was 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 120 pounds, and was equally lethal with her M-4 carbine and her armored Humvee, of which she was the driver, according to tributes from downrange that were read at the service.

Behind the steering wheel, the small and tough soldier was known to bang into an object or two as she manhandled her vehicle through the dangerous streets of Baghdad.

“That’s just how I roll, sir,” she’d tell her team leader.

Clifton and soldiers from her unit were rolling to the aid of fallen comrades when she was killed.

A Bradley fighting vehicle had been blown up by a roadside bomb in northeast Baghdad, and five soldiers from the Schweinfurt, Germany-based 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment had been killed in the blast.

As Clifton’s patrol came to help the stricken soldiers, her Humvee was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade.

Three other soldiers in the Humvee were wounded, but they were treated and remained in Iraq, according to Capt. John Chiappone, rear detachment commander of the Bamberg-based 630th Military Police Company, to which Clifton was attached.

Another 630th MP Company Humvee also was attacked while responding to the Bradley blast, and one if its soldiers suffered a severely broken leg and is being treated at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, Chiappone said.

About 350 people, mostly uniform-clad soldiers, crowded into the small chapel. After the service, they filed out of the church in silence, stopping to salute a memorial display of Clifton on their way to the door.

It was only the second time in the past two years that a service for someone killed in action was performed in Stuttgart, where officers and civilians far outnumber combat troops.

Clifton, of Lehigh Acres, Fla., enlisted in 2004, and deployed to Iraq one year ago. She was scheduled to return to Germany in the fall after a 15-month tour.

She is survived by her father, Douglas, mother, Christine, and sister, Cindy.

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