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Army Cpl. Luke S. Runyan

Died February 17, 2008 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

21, of Spring Grove, Pa.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.; died Feb. 17 in Baqubah, Iraq, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his dismounted patrol using small arms fire. Also killed was Cpl. Chad D. Groepper.

Soldier from south central Pa. killed in ambush in Iraq

The Associated Press

YORK, Pa. — A soldier from central Pennsylvania was one of two soldiers shot and killed in an ambush in Iraq.

Army Spc. Luke Runyan, 21, died Feb. 17 in Diyala province from wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his dismounted patrol using small-arms fire, according to the Department of Defense.

Runyan leaves behind a wife, Courtney, and their 1-year-old daughter, Brynn. The two met while he was stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash.

Runyan, an avid hunter who also enjoyed riding his motorcycle, enlisted in the Army while he was a senior at Spring Grove Area Senior High School. Late last year, he re-enlisted for another three years.

He deployed to Iraq last spring.

“He had no fear of combat and I guess that was part of his training,” said his father, Marc Runyan, of West Manchester Township. “He once told me you go out on a mission and if you get hit, you get hit. If you don’t, you don’t. It’s as simple as that. He did feel very strongly they were doing an excellent job freeing the Iraqi people from al-Qaida.”

Runyan was assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division’s 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Lewis. The other soldier killed was Spc. Chad D. Groepper, 21, of Kingsley, Iowa, who was also assigned to the unit.

Runyan’s father said he was told by Army officials that the attack was an ambush and that another soldier was also injured.

Slain specialist aspired to be a Ranger

The Associated Press

Army Spc. Luke S. Runyan was an avid hunter and enjoyed riding his motorcycle, said his father, Marc Runyan. “He liked to go fast,” he said. “He liked to have his hair on fire.”

Runyan, 21, of Spring Grove, Pa., was killed Feb. 17 in Diyala province, Iraq, by small-arms fire. He was a 2004 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Lewis, Wash.

Christopher Runyan said his brother had seen members of his unit die, including a close friend who was killed by a sniper. “He wanted to be there with his other ‘family,’ his buddies,” he said.

Hairline fractures in his legs sidelined his Ranger training, although he hoped to get back into it eventually. He won a marksmanship award and excelled in a medic course.

Runyan told a story about saving an Iraqi child’s life. It was a boy who’d been hit by a stray bullet. Runyan insisted on pulling the boy out of the line of fire and bandaging him.

He is survived by his wife, Courtney, and a daughter, Brynn, 1.

“Luke was very outgoing and very friendly, but he was also a hard-willed individual,” Christopher Runyan said. “When he wanted to do something, he did it. You couldn’t hold Luke down.”

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