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Remembering Kyle Miller

WILLMAR -- When Vinje Lutheran youth pastor Anita Grue came back from working at the church Friday morning, she told her husband she didn't know why she couldn't stop crying.

WILLMAR -- When Vinje Lutheran youth pastor Anita Grue came back from working at the church Friday morning, she told her husband she didn't know why she couldn't stop crying.

"I guess our relationship was deeper than I thought," Grue said.

The cause of her tears, like those of many on Friday, was for Kyle R. Miller. She found out from the parish secretary that 19-year old Miller had been killed while serving with the Army National Guard in Iraq.

Like the rest, the news stunned her.

"I remember the day he came in and told me he was being deployed," Grue said, who was working in the kitchen at the time. She remembers he told her where he was going and when.

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"He was so proud," she said.

On Thursday, Grue had been looking at a bulletin board honoring the church members who were serving in the military when her eyes stopped and rested on Miller. She said seeing his picture made her smile.

Friday's news made her momentary recollection all the more bittersweet. But talking about Miller brought smiles through the tears.

"You could tell it on his face, that soft smile," she said. "He was so kind and so willing to help with anything."

She said Miller would ride his bike to church and stop by her office with a lot of questions. The two would talk about the sermon.

"I knew from his questions that he had become closer to the Lord," she said.

What Grue saw of his faith and character, Willmar High School shop teacher Neil Pearson saw in his quiet, but diligent workmanship in the classroom.

"He was a good kid," Pearson said, who had Miller in three classes before Miller transferred to the Willmar Area Learning Center. "He really liked to work with hands-on assignments and took a lot of pride in his projects."

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Miller was quiet in class, Pearson said. But he wasn't a troublemaker and worked well with others.

Friends say his appreciation and enthusiasm for that physical type of work carried over into the military career.

Laurie Berg's husband works with Miller's father, Randy, at Kibble Equipment in Bird Island. She was stopping by Randy Miller's home Friday afternoon in Willmar to offer her support. She didn't know Kyle personally, but said she thought a lot of the family.

"My husband said that Randy had told him that (the Guard) was really good for him," she said.

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