Thursday, 4:30 PM
Woburn mourns paratrooper killed in Iraq
By Megan Tench, Globe Staff
WOBURN -- Family and friends gathered today for a memorial Mass for a paratrooper killed in Iraq, the first Woburn native killed in combat since the Vietnam War.
Governor Deval Patrick, attending his first service for an Iraq casualty since taking office this month, hugged relatives of Keith A. Callahan after the 90-minute Mass and also comforted them beforehand. Patrick did not speak during the service and did not speak to reporters afterwards.
Callahan, 31, a sergeant first class in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division and a father of four, was killed south of Baghdad this month during his fourth deployment to Iraq. He was guarding a road crossing to provide security for his platoon when an improvised explosive device exploded.
Callahan graduated from Woburn Memorial High School in 1993. A stocky former boxer, his nickname was "Bam-Bam."
His uncle, Richard Haverty, offered his own remembrances of Callahan, then choked up while reading aloud a letter sent by his nephew's company after his death. The letter described the nightmare of the day, and also praised Callahan's training of fellow soldiers. "They were able to push through and survive," Haverty read.