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Army Spc. Joseph P. Kenny

Died June 23, 2007 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

20, of Veneta, Ore.; assigned to the 27th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Bliss, Texas; died June 23 in Mosul, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-combat-related incident. His death is under investigation.

Ore. soldier remembered for humor, selflessness

The Associated Press

ELMIRA, Ore. — Dual services July 2 honored soldiers from Veneta and Klamath Falls who died last month in Iraq.

About 200 family, friends, comrades and veterans gathered July 2 in the Elmira High School gymnasium to remember 20-year-old Spc. Joseph Paul Kenny. He died June 23 while serving in Mosul, Iraq.

Spc. Dominic Nathaniel Rodriguez, 23, of Klamath Falls died in Baghdad on June 22.

Dozens of bouquets were lined up in front of the flag-draped casket. The two-hour memorial service drew many of Kenny’s fellow students as well as former teachers and friends.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski addressed the gathering. “I must tell you that as much as I love this area, I prayed that I would never have to come back to mourn the loss of a soldier,” said Kulongoski, who once lived near Junction City. Kenny “was the best Oregon has to offer.”

Family and friends remembered Kenny for his bright personality, sense of humor and selflessness. Comrades praised his leadership and work ethic.

Family members also compiled a 20-minute video slide show chronicling Kenny’s life from infancy to his final months and days in Oregon and Iraq. Pictures often showed Kenny’s fun-loving side — making faces or pretending to dress as a woman — drawing laughs from some and tears from others. He also was seen posed with his fiancee, Ashley Brodkorb.

An officer played taps as an honor guard held a flag above Kenny’s silver casket. From outside, a rifle salute echoed through the doors. Audible sobs filled the gymnasium.

Army Sgt. Jared Graves, Kenny’s brother-in-law, presented Linda Peterson-Phillips Smith, Kenny’s mother, with a neatly folded American flag.

The Patriot Guard Riders, a traveling veterans group, lined the walkway to the gym and silently held dozens of American flags as mourners filed in for the service. The group exemplified a larger camaraderie within each branch of the military, said Ken Brown, a Eugene pastor who led the service.

“I think it says there’s still a group of people who love their country,” Brown said after the service. “Whether or not they agree with the war, they’re here to say, ‘You know what, he’s our guy, and were going to support him.’ ”

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