Kyle A. Coumas, 22

Coumas died Oct. 21 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his vehicle was attacked by a roadside bomb. In an open letter to their son, published in the Lodi News-Sentinel after his death, Greg and Lori Coumas acknowledged that his decision to join the Army in early 2007 was not their first choice for their son. But, they said, "Despite all our efforts to steer you in the direction we wanted for you, you chose your own path. We wanted you safe and secure. You needed to make sure everyone else was safe and secure. And, by doing so, you far exceeded any and all of our expectations." From his decision, they added, "we've learned the difficulty of having to say goodbye too soon."

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