Thursday, May 24, 2007

David C. Kuehl dies of 'wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit'

FARGO, N.D. - The family of an Army soldier from Wahpeton, N.D., has confirmed his death in Iraq, saying "we prayed this day would never come."
Staff Sgt. David Kuehl, 27, was killed during combat operations, his family said Wednesday in a statement. Kuehl was serving his third tour of duty overseas, friends said. His family was notified of his death Tuesday.

Kuehl was "a wonderful son, husband, father, brother and uncle and will be dearly missed," the family statement said.

Kuehl is a 1999 graduate of Wahpeton High School. His wife, two children and his parents live in Wahpeton, which is on the Minnesota-North Dakota border, about 27 miles west of Fergus Falls, Minn.

The military said roadside bombings and gun battles across Iraq killed nine U.S. service members in attacks Monday and Tuesday. Kuehl's family was told he was killed by a roadside bomb in the Baghdad area.

The Rev. Russ Doebler, pastor at Valley Christian Assembly in Breckenridge, Minn., said he singled out Kuehl to the congregation when the soldier attended a church service about two months ago.

"It was a spontaneous thing. I just noticed him during the service," Doebler said. "I said, 'David Kuehl is with us today and I just want to honor him and thank him for serving his country.'

"The congregation started clapping and they wouldn't stop. It was a very emotional moment for all of us," he said.

Doebler said he was grateful that Kuehl received the recognition, but "would trade all of that to have him back."

Clark Gripentrog, the principal at Wahpeton High School, said Kuehl was a good student who was quiet and easy to get along with. Kuehl enjoyed drawing and painting, he said.

"I remember him as a hard worker and a very nice person," Gripentrog said.

Mary Ann Kostuck, Kuehl's high school art teacher, said she still tells students about his artwork during an annual project on designing dream homes.

"His was so beautiful, so simple," Kostuck said. "Everyone else would have these extravagant, elaborate ideas, but he was going to have a smaller house than most people.

"He had a very realistic approach to life in his compositions," she said.

Kuehl also had a good sense of humor, Kostuck said.

"He was very kind. Just a nice kid to be with," she said.

Family members declined to comment beyond their statement, which expressed "our sincere appreciation for the kind thoughts, prayers and condolences we've received from family, friends and neighbors during this very difficult time."

From the Star Tribune