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Published: Friday, 11/3/2006

2 Marines from Michigan killed in fighting in Iraq

Koehler Koehler
AP Enlarge

Two U.S. Marines from Michigan, one of whom attended Milan High School, died during combat in Iraq's Anbar province, the military said yesterday.

Cpl. Gary A. Koehler, 21, of Ypsilanti and formerly of the Milan area, died Wednesday, the Defense Department said. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Lance Cpl. Minhee Kim, 20, of Ann Arbor also died Wednesday, the military said. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve's 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, from Lansing.

Corporal Koehler graduated in 2003 from Milan High School and volunteered for a second deployment after being wounded about 1 1/2 years ago, and he recently married Hillary Moss.

High school coaches remembered Corporal Koehler, a football and baseball star, as a dedicated athlete.

Milan football coach Steve Robb said Corporal Koehler showed him the scar that remained after he was shot in the thigh. Mr. Robb said he assumed at the time that the former defensive lineman wouldn't be deployed again.

"He said he had to go back because he couldn't let down the guys in his platoon," Mr. Robb said. "He was a warrior. He wanted to do what he could for his country."

Adam Gilles said he coached Corporal Koehler, a starting left fielder, in baseball all four years of the Marine's high school career.

"He was a leader on the team," Mr. Gilles said. "He would just go all out all the time. He was a great kid. Everybody liked him."

Mr. Gilles said Corporal Koehler was expected to come home a week ago but was held over.

"He was definitely a patriot," Coach Robb said. "We need more guys like him."

Milan is in both Monroe and Washtenaw counties.

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