Saturday, April 14, 2007

Kyle Bohrnsen remembered

PHILIPSBURG — With one ill-willed and well-hidden improvised explosive device, a promising young man with a heart the size of hunting District 216 died on the enemy’s terms.

Pvt. 1st Class Kyle Bohrnsen, 22, of Philipsburg, was the only casualty of his battalion Tuesday while four others were injured. He died from injuries sustained while maneuvering his battalion on patrol in Baghdad.

“From what we know, it seems that he was driving when the IED exploded under his Hummer,” Geoff Bohrnsen, Kyle’s father, said Thursday from the family home in the Rock Creek Valley, west of Philipsburg. “If you are a religious person, it makes you hope that someone somewhere else needed him. That’s the only explanation of why he was taken from us.”

A towering young man at 6 foot, 3 inches, and easily over 250 pounds before his enlistment, Kyle never used intimidation to get his point across. Instead, he used a solid handshake and gentle demeanor.

“Kyle never had trouble with people for one reason,” said Mike Cutler, principal of Granite County High School. “They all respected him. And not just because of his size. He was a quiet leader, he led by example.

“Kyle was never a great student or great athlete in high school,” added Cutler. “He didn’t have to be. He was a great human being.”

As of April 11, the Department of Defense had confirmed 3,287 military deaths stemming from the war in Iraq and Afghanistan according to Also, 24,314 soldiers have been wounded in some capacity during wartime stemming from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“You see (kids dying) every day in the papers and on the news, but when it happens to a kid like this it really hits home,” said Ron Estes, Kyle’s high school physical education teacher. “It really makes you think about what we are doing over there.”

Bohrnsen first thought of enlisting in the service late in 2005 and talked in great detail with two life-long friends — Matt Mickelson and Sam Short — about the prospects of serving their country.

The three would all later join the Army together, sticking with one another no matter what the circumstances or consequences.

“He loved his country and thought it was his job to help protect it,” said Carl Sanders, Bohrnsen’s neighbor and close friend. “The saddest part is seeing people take advantage of the freedom men like Kyle provide for us.”

Stationed with C Company 2-12 and the 2nd Infantry Division, Bohrnsen had become an integral part of a team. So much so that he earned the respect of his crew and superiors repeatedly.

“He had what his sergeant called ‘the ability to make a career out of this,’” added Kyle’s dad, Geoff. “Even over there, people looked up to Kyle.”

Bohrnsen loved the life that his grandfather, Norman, and grandmother, Corrine, helped provide with decades of hard work on the family land near Philipsburg.

In his free time, Bohrnsen worked as a professional hunting guide.

“He cared for and knew the country better than any guide we employed,” said Bob Hogue, owner and operator of Big M outfitters in Philipsburg. “We were skeptical hiring such a young kid, but that thought soon faded. He became part of our family and was an unbelievable role model and friend to our son, Ladd.”

Bohrnsen would be the first one to arrive and the last one to leave during the hunting season, prompting Hogue to place his trust in Kyle to handle his return clients.

“He always worked hard and never complained about being tired or sick,” said Cary Hogue, Bob’s wife. “Even after a long day he always made time to play ping-pong or Playstation with Ladd. He was just an amazing young man.”

And what did a young man do with his one day off during hunting season after being in the October and November cold from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m.? What else — gather his buddies and go hunting.

“Oh, did he ever love hunting season,” said Lisa Bohrnsen, Kyle’s mother. “The last family portrait we took was the day before regular season and he was so mad at me. He had this scowl in the picture because he was so upset.

“He just loved the outdoors so much. He couldn’t wait for the season to come around and he couldn’t wait until he got back home from the service so he could hunt.”

For the record, the Rock Creek Valley kids are a tight-knit bunch. They did everything together, from piling into one another’s pickup truck to helping other families in the valley with chores on the ranch.

Mickelson, who many consider Bohrnsen’s best friend, was one week from ending his tour in Afghanistan when he heard the tragic news. Army officials are trying to work out the possibility of Mickelson flying home with Kyle.

“The Army has contacted Matt and Sam and it looks like they both are going to be able to make it home for the funeral,” said Geoff. “It will be very special having them in Kyle’s honor guard.”

Still, Bohrnsen’s intentions of joining the military are a mystery. People close to him questioned his enlistment and even spoke in depth with him about the prospect of being in such a dangerous place.

His mind was set, though. He wanted to help protect what he believed in, relying on the morals and ethics taught by his parents and grandparents.

“I know it’s a cliché and I’m sure everyone you talk to will say it, but Kyle was a great kid,” said Cutler. “Kids looked up to him. It is just unthinkable that he won’t be coming home.”

Funeral arrangements haven’t been announced, but early plans are to hold it in the high school auditorium.

Besides his parents and grandparents, Bohrnsen leaves a sister, Danielle.

From the Record

Related Link:
Kyle G. Bohrnsen dies of injuries from I.E.D.