LCpl. Jeremiah C. Kinchen
22, of Salcha, Alaska; assigned to the 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, San Antonio; attached to the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 8, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force; killed April 4 in an explosion during combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq.
Alaska Marine killed in Iraq
ANCHORAGE — A Marine attached to a San Antonio, Texas-based Marine Corps Reserve unit has died in combat in Iraq, according to the Pentagon.
Lance Cpl. Jeremiah C. Kinchen, 22, of Salcha, Alaska, died Monday in an explosion during combat in Anbar province in western Iraq.
The Marine Corps does not usually provide details on its combat casualties, citing security concerns.
The Defense Department says Kinchen was assigned to the Marine Corps Reserve's San Antonio-based 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marine Division, according to the Defense Department.
He previously had served in Iraq with the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 8, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force.
Kinchen's mother said her son was a reservist who did not hesitate to serve his country when asked to do so.
"Jeremiah was a great man. He loved his family and his country and he died for his country," said Jeanie Kinchen, reached by phone Wednesday at her Salcha home. "When they said ‘We need you to go,' he never backed down. He was very determined. Once he made up his mind that was it."
She said her son loved the outdoors, particularly snowboarding, fishing and hunting.
Mourners pay tribute to Marine killed in Iraq
FAIRBANKS, Alaska — The same steady brown eyes that stared out from the portrait of Lance Cpl. Jeremiah Kinchen were the same eyes that gazed out of a photograph of Jeremiah, as a baby, straddling a bound and gagged live alligator.
No fear was evident in either snapshot of Kinchen, a U.S. Marine and the first Alaska serviceman killed in combat in Iraq. Kinchen was on his second tour of duty in the war.
On Saturday, about 350 mourners, including Gov. Frank Murkowski and his wife, Nancy, gathered in North Pole to pay their respects to the 22-year-old Kinchen. The 2001 graduate of Eielson High School was killed by an explosion on April 4 in Iraq's Anbar province.
He'd been in Iraq for less than a month.
"We can never fully repay the debt we own to Lance Cpl. Kinchen," Murkowski said at the memorial service held at the North Pole Assembly of God, the church Kinchen's parents attend.
"I join all Alaskans because we are deeply saddened by the tragedy," Murkowski said. "Because we've seen one of our own pay the ultimate price."
Kinchen was buried in Louisiana, where the family lived before making Alaska their home. James Jr. and Jeanie Kinchen moved their family to Salcha seven years ago.
Jeremiah Colt Kinchen was assigned to the Marine Corps Reserve's 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marine Division. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, the military honor reserved for those killed or injured in battle.
At the service, Marine Gunnery Sgt. Sonny Osborn presented Kinchen's parents with a painted oar adorned with their son's name, badges, unit emblems and the U.S. and Alaska flags.
It was a symbol, Osborn said. Kinchen's unit historically arrived in combat zones via the water in rubber boats, he said.
Kinchen's 20-year-old brother, James Colby Kinchen, and sister, 14-year-old Amie Kinchen sat near their parents during the service.
A slide show tribute to Jeremiah Kinchen looked back over the years, ending with snaps of a grown Kinchen, holding a weapon and dressed in combat fatigues.
"He wanted to be a Marine," said Army Chaplain Vance Theodore.
Kinchen's parachute caught the wind one day after a training jump landing, Theodore recounted. When that happens, the jumper is supposed to unhook the chute to keep from being dragged around, he said.
But Kinchen didn't let go and bounced across the field, enjoying the ride while onlookers yelled for him to unhook the chute. Finally he snapped free and a fellow Marine shouted "Ooo Aah!" — the sound of a satisfied Marine, Theodore said.
Later, in the church's basement, Kinchen's parents greeted well-wishers who lined the stairs in order to offer condolences.
One young man with a buzz hair cut told Jeanie Kinchen that his unit was not going to be deployed to Iraq as expected. Now he faced life as a civilian, he said.
"I know you are disappointed," Jeanie Kinchen said while reaching out to touch his arm. "But I'm not."
— By Diana Campbell, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner