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August 10, 2012

Weatherford Navy medic killed in Afghanistan

— A 21-year-old Navy medic from Weatherford was killed Tuesday in Afghanistan during a roadside bomb attack.

Clayton Ross Beauchamp died when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device while conducting a foot patrol in the Shaban District of Helmand Province, Afghanistan, according to the Department of Defense.

Beauchamp, a 2009 Weatherford High School graduate, signed up with the Navy while still in high school. He was on his first deployment, which began earlier this summer, according to his aunt, Susan Brooke.

Beauchamp was assigned to 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., when family received the news of his death Tuesday.

Father Jack Beauchamp said in a statement released Thursday night that he, Clayton’s mother, Diane Tomlin-Beauchamp, and their family are distraught over the death of Clayton Beauchamp.

“We are trying to hold it together under the circumstances,” Beauchamp said. “We’ll get through this. I can tell you that Clayton absolutely had no regrets. He believed in what he was doing and what he did. We take comfort in that he was doing exactly what he wanted to do.”

Beauchamp added his son loved life and the beach, and was an inspiration to his friends.

“He made the people around him better,” Beauchamp said.

“He loved his country,” Brooke said. “He wanted to have a good life and fight for his country and help others.”

Beauchamp wanted to become a paramedic after serving in the military, according to his family.

“He was devoted to helping others,” Brooke said.

Beauchamp’s mother and father were at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware Thursday afternoon to receive their son’s body, escorted home by brother Christopher Beauchamp, also a Navy corpsman in Afghanistan, Brooke said.

Beauchamp also has a younger sister, Cheyenne Beauchamp, who followed her brothers into the Navy and is currently stationed in Virginia.

Beauchamp’s cousin, grandfather and his great-grandfather have served, as well.

“He was always the one having fun, making everyone else have fun,” Brooke remembers about her nephew. “He pretty much was the life of the party.”

“He loved to be with his family, going fishing and hunting, hanging out with his friends,” Brooke said.

During his leave prior to deployment, Beauchamp intended to propose to his girlfriend but couldn’t afford the ring yet, Brooke said. He said he would wait to propose until he returned from Afghanistan, though the family considers her his fiance and a member of the family.

Weatherford High School English teacher Christine Goss remembered Beauchamp as a former student in her classroom.

“Clayton was a kind and courteous young man with a lightning-fast grin,” Goss said. “He typically was pretty quiet during class discussions, but when that grin flashed, everyone knew he had something interesting and fun to say.”

“Weatherford ISD staff members, current and former students are deeply saddened by the loss of Clayton,” Weatherford ISD Superintendent Jeffrey Hanks said. “Students are considered family members by many of our staff members, and a tragedy such as this one just tears us all apart.”

A fund, the Clayton Beauchamp Memorial Fund, has been set up at Legacy Texas Bank to help family members and close friends travel home for his service, as well as start a scholarship fund, according to Brooke.

After the Navy releases his body, they expect to hold a service at North Side Baptist Church at some point, as well.

He will be buried at Memorial Gardens in Weatherford.

According to his family, Beauchamp was close friends with Weatherford’s Austin Staggs, who was also killed in action in Afghanistan in November 2010. The families are starting separate scholarship funds to honor the young men killed in action.

Jack Beauchamp said he knows both young men would want to give back to the community they grew up in and help young students advance in their education.

“We would do it in their memories,” Beauchamp said. “To help other kids on their path to education. Austin and Clayton would want it that way. They were positive lights to Weatherford.”

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made to the Clayton Beauchamp Memorial Fund at Legacy Texas Bank, 111 Santa Fe Drive.

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