Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Marine Lance Cpl. Minhee Kim

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Minhee Kim, 20, of Ann Arbor, Michigan

Lance Cpl. Kim was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, Lansing, Mich.; died Nov. 1 while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq.

Hundreds mourn Ann Arbor Marine
20-year-old Andy Kim's faith remembered
Friday, November 10, 2006

News Staff Reporter

On her son's 20th birthday two weeks ago, Mi Hea Kim waited in her Ann Arbor home for a phone call or e-mail from Iraq.

She was worried because it had been about a week since she'd heard from Andy, who had sounded tired and mentioned how difficult his duties had become. The day passed with no word.

On Thursday night, Mi Hea Kim wept and hugged her son's still body as Marines stood guard on either side of his flag-draped casket.

Lance Cpl. Andy Kim, who died in Iraq Nov. 1 of a gunshot wound to the neck during combat duty, was honored during an emotional six-hour viewing, Marine Corps League ceremony, funeral service and reception at Covenant Presbyterian Church on Jackson Road in Scio Township.

Some people, perhaps expecting a closed casket, broke into tears as soon as they entered the building and saw Kim's body at rest. On one side of the casket was his serious Marine portrait. On the other, was a portrait of the Andy they all knew: smiling and relaxed.

Only the sound of soft hymns and people crying broke the silence during the viewing and visitation. Still, the evening had an overriding theme of hope and eternal life, as many spoke of Kim's faith in resurrection through Jesus Christ.

Most of the 500 or so mourners were, like Kim, of Korean descent. And many had worshipped with Kim at the Harvest Mission Community Church in Ann Arbor, where Kim had become a fervent Christian while a sophomore at Pioneer High School.

Kim's close friend, Jean Lee, said Kim would have loved the evening's emphasis on the eternal rather than temporal.

"He was a man of passion and good integrity,'' she said. "I know God fulfilled his purpose for Andy, and I'm really proud of him.''

His friend, Jaehyup Chun, noted that Kim said he was "ready to face anything'' before he left for Iraq in September.

Chun recalled the day he felt compelled to pray for his friend recently.

"God spoke to me in a powerful way and said, 'Andy is so safe in Christ. Andy is so secure in the Lord.' And that day was Nov. 1, 2006.''

Shawn Ashley, who was Kim's speech and composition teacher at Pioneer High, recalled how Kim had an easy-going, fun spirit. Ashley said after graduation, Kim came back to visit a couple of times, and the two talked about his decision to join the military.

"He said he understood the risks, and that it was what he wanted to do,'' he said.

His parents said he had wanted to join the Marines since he was a boy.

Dozens of Marines from all wars since World War II came to show their respects in the formal Marine Corps League ceremony, complete with bagpipes.

"It's a heart-wrenching service,'' said Tony Gillum of Belleville, a Vietnam veteran with the Marine Corps League. "But it's a needed service to help them draw closure to their son who gave his life ... who gave everything, his tomorrows, his children, his family for this country.''

At the end of the visitation, Kim's family took turns saying goodbye as onlookers fought back tears. When the funeral director slowly closed the casket, Mi Hea Kim leaned over, as if to gaze at her son's face until the last second.

The funeral service included a slide show of Kim in various activities, playing his guitar, jumping in the air with friends, at graduation. Also included was a clip of Kim talking to a group at church, and explaining how his relationship with God had given him a new reason to live.

Marine Sgt. Jesse Lake said he met Kim on June 25, 2005, the day Kim joined Charlie Company. He said he was always the first to volunteer, no matter the task.

"I asked some of the Marines in Charlie Company to describe him as he was in Iraq,'' he said. "The Marines who knew him best wrote: 'We were always in awe of his ability to be so soft-spoken in demeanor, yet to fight with such tenacity.

"Lance Cpl. Kim was an outstanding Marine. His smile and uplifting spirit will be missed by the Marines in Charlie Company.

"Semper fideles.'''

Marine Lance Cpl. Minhee Kim was killed in action on 11/01/06.

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