Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Alexander J. Funcheon dies of injuries from I.E.D.

WICHITA — Before Army Sgt. Alex Funcheon was deployed to Iraq, he went to see his old third-grade teacher.

He posed for pictures in October with Linn Bertog — who now teaches fifth grade — and her Bostic Elementary School students, who had “adopted” him before the school year.

On Tuesday, Bertog had to tell her 25 students that Funcheon, 21, was killed by a roadside bomb on Sunday. She learned of his death from his parents, who live in nearby Bel Aire.

“My heart just bleeds for the family,” said Bertog, whose class didn’t meet Monday because school wasn’t in session.

Funcheon was a hero to her students, Bertog said, and the class’ relationship with him helped connect them to world events.

E-mailing Funcheon was a prized perk, given to those who helped out or performed well in class. The students sent him several care packages in the Middle East and had planned to send another this month.

Now, Bertog said, the students must deal with his death.

“The war is real,” she said.

Funcheon last e-mailed his parents about a week ago, writing that he was looking forward to some R&R time in Germany.

“He ended with, ‘I’ll be home before you know it,’ ‘‘ said his mother, Karen Funcheon.

Alex Funcheon, who enlisted in 2004, had a positive attitude about serving in Iraq.

“He never got down, and he knew that he was doing a good job,” his mother said. “He knew what was expected of him, and he was going to do it.”

After his military obligations were over, he planned to go to college and become a firefighter.

“He was starting to figure out what he wanted to do,” said his father, Bob Funcheon. “And that’s the sad part of this, is the life that (he) will never live out.”

Funeral services are pending for Funcheon, who is survived by his parents and his sister, Gloria.

From the Topeka Capital Journal