Remembering the fallen

A tribute to troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan

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Kampha B. Sourivong

Killed on Sept. 30, 2006

IOWA CITY (AP) — Kampha Sourivong was known to be rambunctious as a child. He would argue with his mother, sneak out his window at night and sometimes fight with his brother.

After dying in Iraq last week, the 20-year-old soldier will also forever be known as a selfless protector of his country.

The Iowa National Guard sergeant from Iowa City was buried with full military honors Sunday amid a mournful crowd who shared memories of his youthful indiscretions as well as his military deeds.

``We had some fights, but nothing that wasn't normal between brothers,'' said Neal Vasey, the soldier's brother. ``To me, you're always first my brother and then a soldier.''

Sourivong was shot by insurgents while providing convoy security Sept. 30 west of Baghdad. He was posthumously promoted to sergeant from specialist.

Sgt. 1st Class Scott Nisely, 48, of Marshalltown also died in the attack. Both were assigned to the Iowa National Guard's Company C, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry, based in Iowa Falls.

Sourivong's memorial was held at Iowa City High, where Sourivong spent the first two years of his high school career. He transferred to Iowa City West High and enlisted in the military before graduating in 2004. His unit was mobilized in September 2005 and arrived in Iraq last May.

The funeral service included a slideshow with pictures of Sourivong, and his family placed four large photographs of him in the lobby. To end the ceremony, nearly 50 soldiers walked on the stage to salute Sourivong in his flag-draped casket.

``This is the first time I've ever seen him without a smile on his face,'' said friend Heather Dresden before the service. ``He was the nicest guy I've ever known.''

Dresden said Sourivong told her he was terrified to go to war but wanted to fight for his country.

``I just came to respect the fact that he died fighting for us,'' she said. ``He wanted to be a hero and he is. He is my hero forever.''

Army Chaplain Gary Selof presided over the memorial. He told the crowd some stories the soldier's mother told him, including how Sourivong would sneak out his window at night to be with his friends. Often he would be found at a nearby convenience store, where workers came to know him by name.

Sourivong was a ``ladies man'' who loved motorcycles and arguing with his mother, Selof said.

Selof described the last conversation Sourivong had with his mother. At the end of the conversation she said, ``You like to argue with me, don't you?''

``Yes,'' Sourivong replied. ``It makes me feel like I'm at home. I love you and miss you, mom.''

In an interview after the service, Jayme Sedlacek said she knew Sourivong since she was in first grade. He was always concerned for others' safety and would often walk her home at night, she said.

``He was an amazing guy,'' said Sedlacek, 18.

``He was always protecting people.''

Sourivong was buried Sunday afternoon at Oakland Cemetery.

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