Hancock native killed in Iraq
HANCOCK -- A 35-year-old soldier who grew up in Hancock died in Iraq after returning to the country for his second tour of duty, his father has reported.
Army Reserve Sgt. Kurt Kruize died of noncombat-related injuries on Sunday in Baghdad. His body arrived Tuesday night at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
The St. Cloud unit had been deployed to Iraq in January.
Kruize is survived by his wife, Billie Kruize; a son and three daughters, ages 2 to 13; and his parents, Lyle and Beverly Kruize of Hancock.
Lyle Kruize said the family was informed of his son's death on Monday by the Department of Defense, according to the Hancock Record.
Kurt Kruize had joined the Army Reserve while in high school and had worn his uniform proudly to his high school prom, his father told the paper.
Kruize is a 1993 graduate of Hancock High School and was serving with a unit based in St. Cloud, where he and his family have been living. He worked as a forklift operator with Viking Coca-Cola Bottling Company, St. Cloud, according to The Associated Press.
Mark Leindecker of Willmar, retired, serves as unit administrator for the Army Reserve in Willmar and held that role while serving alongside Kruize in the early 1990s. Leindecker said he remembers Kruize most as being a good, family man. "He was very family-oriented,'' said Leindecker.
His father said that the Department of Death is investigating the death and has not provided the family with any details.
Billie Kruze had flown from St. Cloud to receive her husband's body. Services are pending but expected to be held in St. Cloud.