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Guest Column: Connie Edgar

I sat between two uniforms.

On my left were Star Scout Walter Moser and his brother, Life Scout Drew, of Troop 38. On my right, Marine Sgt. Kevin Cryer, former Eagle Scout from Troop 38.

We were attending the funeral of Cpl. Kory Wiens and his canine companion Cooper, who died in the performance of their duties in Iraq on July 6.

Kory was in my son's Cub Scout den. Together they learned the Cub Scout Promise which began, "I promise to do my best ..."

The den did community service projects such as cleaning Independence Riverview Park of debris and sanitizing the playground equipment after the floods of 1997.

They collected food for the Ella Curran food bank and gathered items for Goodwill. They enjoyed the Pinewood Derby and summer camp.

In the fifth grade, they moved from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts, on to greater challenges and adventures.

We lost track of the Weins family when they moved to Albany sometime during the boys' middle school years. But Several months ago, Stuart came home and said he had seen Kory.

Kory had joined the Army in the fall of 2005 after graduating from high school, and was due to deploy to Iraq soon with his trained dog. He would join his older brother Kevin, who was already there.

Last Wednesday, I opened the newspaper and a sunny day was clouded with my tears as I read of the death of Cpl. Wiens and Cooper.

With my own involvement in Scouts and two sons in the age group of most of the soldiers serving in Iraq, I knew the day could come when one of my sons' friends would come home this way.

I sat in the memorial service listening to the accolades given a soldier who had served well. Kory's captain told us that he was often up first, preparing for the day and setting an example for the rest of his team.

On their morning five-mile runs, Kory and Cooper frequently were out in front, encouraging the others.

In the eyes of his commanding officer, so special were Kory's leadership and enthusiasm that she awarded him a special unit commendation.

Kory always gave "his best."

As a Boy Scout, his promise was "To do my duty to God and my country ... to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight."

These things he learned each week at Troop meetings and activities. He learned them while posting flags down the main streets of Monmouth every June. He learned them on camping trips. He learned them while working on merit badges.

I couldn't help but wonder, was there a connection between what Kory learned as a boy in Troop 38 and his commitment in joining an all-volunteer army as a young man?

I sat between two uniforms. I sat a little taller in my seat, feeling the honor of being there with tears in my eyes.

--

Connie Edgar is a Monmouth resident.

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