By Stephenie Steitzer
The Cincinnati Enquirer
A Newport Central Catholic High School graduate who recently returned to the United States after serving five months with the Air Force in the Middle East died Friday.
Airman First Class Justin Brummett, 21, died of a viral infection, his father, David Brummett of Newport, said Saturday.
Brummett's father said his son, stationed at the Minot (North Dakota) Air Force base, was ill for a couple weeks and told him others in his unit were also sick.
Base spokeswoman Lt. Karim Wright said she could not confirm whether others had been ill. Brummett is the only active duty soldier from the base who has died in recent months, she said.
Brummett's father said his son was in the United Arab Emirates from January through May and was a fuels apprentice. He enlisted with the Air Force in 2001.
"I loved it," his father said of Brummett's decision to enlist. "I thought it was the best thing in the world for him. I still do. It made a man out of him."
Brummett graduated in 2000 from Newport Central Catholic High School, where he played football and sang in school choral concerts.
Former classmate Carly Fry, 21, of Wilder, said she performed a duet with him at a spring concert.
"He was kind of a jock, but a little bit of a soft, sentimental type," she said.
Brummett loved singing so much that he became the youngest member of the Sons of Dixie barbershop quartet, his stepfather Paul Kauffman said.
After high school, Brummett worked a few jobs in Northern Kentucky, then married.
Brummett and his wife Mandy have a 9-month-old son, Joshua.
"He was a good person and a good father and a good son," said his mother, Kathy Kauffman.
The Brummetts and Kauffmans are traveling to North Dakota today and expect to have a memorial service in Newport in a few weeks.
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