A 31-year-old Naval Reserve lieutenant from College Park who had taught history at the Naval Academy was killed in Al Hillah, Iraq, on Thursday when a vehicle he was riding in came under small-arms fire, the Department of Defense confirmed yesterday.
Kylan Alexander Jones-Huffman, a native of Aptos, Calif., was transported to Camp Babylon Medical Facility in Iraq, where he died. He is survived by his wife, Heidi.
Huffman was on duty with the First Marine Expeditionary Force when he was killed by an unidentified gunman.
He was a reservist at the Baltimore Naval Reserve Center and was mobilized in January. Huffman was assigned to the Naval Central Command in Bahrain.
Huffman graduated in 1994 from the academy, where the yearbook records him as a "quiet guy." A classmate, James T. Carroll, said last night that Huffman was one of the brightest students in his class, earning a place in a program that sent him to the University of Maryland for a master's degree in German and classical history.
After several years as a surface warfare officer, Huffman returned to the academy in 1999 to teach western civilization, Carroll said.
Huffman quickly won a reputation as one of the sharpest minds among the junior officers on the faculty.
"He could just talk circles around you," recalls Carroll, a former academy instructor who had taught alongside him in the history department. "He'd be having a conversation with a nerdy professor, and you'd sit there for two minutes and realize you couldn't participate in the conversation in any way."
Carroll said that Huffman had talked about getting a Ph.D. in classical history. Huffman left the academy last year, working briefly with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
He is believed to be the third Naval Academy graduate killed since the start of military operations in Iraq.
He had been honored with several awards, including Navy and Marine Corps commendations, National Defense Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and the Southwest Asia Service Medal.
His family could not be reached for comment yesterday, but Kevin O'Rourke, a neighbor in College Park, called Huffman a "nice, pleasant guy."
At least 61 U.S. troops have died in combat in Iraq since President Bush declared major combat over 3 1/2 months ago.