Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Daniel W. Courneya dies 'of wounds suffered when his patrol was attacked by enemy forces using automatic fire and explosives'

Alex Petuck, 52, lowered the American flag in front of his house Saturday night, while his wife, Martha, was still on the phone fielding news of their grandson's death in Iraq.

Daniel Courneya, 19, was among those killed in an attack south of Baghdad where an insurgent group captured three Americans, according to what the Army told Courneya's mother, Wendy Thompson of Michigan.

Courneya was born in Fresno and went to Daley Elementary School. He moved to Michigan with his mother when he was 10 years old.

Courneya's name won't be on a Department of Defense list of casualties from this area because he moved as a child. But his grandmother, Martha Petuck, said her grandson's death brings the Iraq war very much home to the Central Valley.

"All of his family is here," said Martha Petuck. "It's tremendously hard on his 17-year-old cousin. They were so very close."

Courneya's stepfather, David Thompson, was also serving in Iraq, about 20 miles from the ambush. He is on his way home for the services, which have not yet been scheduled.

Courneya -- described by his family as warm, responsible and always meticulously dressed -- signed up for the Army during his senior year in high school.

"He left for boot camp two weeks after his graduation," said Alex Petuck. "During boot camp he met a girl. Then he went to Iraq. During his first leave back they were married. Now he died. All in less than a year."

From the Fresno Bee