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Friends and family fill church to honor sergeant killed in Iraq



Published: Fri, June 24, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The soldier loved being in the Army, a relative said.

By DENISE DICK

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

AUSTINTOWN -- Army Sgt. Larry R. Kuhns Jr. was a jokester, a compassionate person and a good judge of character.

Austintown Community Church, where Kuhns and his family were members, was packed Thursday morning with friends and family of the 24-year-old who was killed last week in Iraq.

"He was very energetic, very outgoing and very caring," said Keith Jackson, Kuhns' brother-in-law. "He had no regrets."

Jackson knew Kuhns for years before Kuhns and Jackson's sister, Courtney, married nearly three years ago.

"We used to play football together when we were 9 or 10 years old," Jackson said, referring to the Austintown Colts team.

Kuhns joined the Army about seven years ago.

"He loved it," Jackson said. "It was his career."

Kuhns was killed in Ramadi when his military vehicle came under a grenade attack.

Neighbors' recollections

Kathy Wick and her two children, Dawn and David, lived next to Kuhns in the township for six years when Kuhns was a young boy. David Wick attended elementary school in the township with Kuhns.

"I used to baby-sit him," Dawn Wick said as her face reddened and tears welled in her eyes. "He was a really good kid."

During the service, Kuhns' widow was presented with a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal.

"Sgt. Kuhns sacrificed everything," said Maj. Gen. William M. Lenaers, an Army unit commander in Warren, Mich. "He sacrificed the chance to love and be loved, the chance to grow and to see his daughter grow."

The Rev. David B. Roberts, who delivered the sermon, said he learned from hearing stories about Kuhns that he was a jokester and an agitator who liked to get people going. But he also was a good judge of character and a compassionate person.

When Kuhns was a boy, he would bring home wounded animals to try to help them, he said.

Besides his wife, Kuhns also left a daughter, Mackenzie, who will turn 2 next month; his parents, Larry R. Kuhns Sr. of Hanoverton, and Kelly Melnik of Lowellville; four sisters and two grandmothers.

Kuhns was to return to the United States next month to be reunited with his wife and daughter at Fort Carson, Colorado Springs, Colo. He was assigned to Fort Carson's 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, also spoke at the service, comparing Kuhns' strength, courage and compassion to that of the country the Army sergeant died defending.

"In many ways, Sgt. Kuhns embodied America," Ryan said.




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