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Sgt. Kyle Miller laid to rest in Willmar

WILLMAR -- About 1,000 people gathered at the Willmar Civic Center Monday morning for the funeral of a fallen Minnesota National Guard soldier. Sgt. Kyle Randall Miller, 19, of Willmar died June 29 near Balad, Iraq, when a roadside bomb exploded....

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WILLMAR -- About 1,000 people gathered at the Willmar Civic Center Monday morning for the funeral of a fallen Minnesota National Guard soldier.

Sgt. Kyle Randall Miller, 19, of Willmar died June 29 near Balad, Iraq, when a roadside bomb exploded. He was assigned to a field artillery unit headquartered in New Ulm and was one of about 2,600 Minnesota National Guard members serving in Iraq.

He was remembered by family and friends for his quick smile, laughter and kindness. Brig. Gen. Dean Johnson, a National Guard chaplain and state senator from Willmar, spoke at the service. Gov. Tim Pawlenty and U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton attended.

One of Miller's high school friends Nicole Dobmeier of Willmar was impressed with the number of people who attended the funeral.

"I think it was great because he was good enough," Dobmeier said. "He deserved this."

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Miller was one of Marla Schroeder's students in her beginning Spanish class at Willmar High School. She said he always had a smile or a one-liner that would lighten up the class.

"He was very pleasant, a very pleasant kid," Schroeder said.

Miller was born in Warren in 1986 to Randall Miller and Kathy Miller. He grew up in Bird Island and Willmar and graduated from the Willmar Area Learning Center in 2005.

He enlisted in the National Guard as a high school junior.

After the service, more than 30 National Guard members lined the sidewalk and saluted as pallbearers brought Miller's casket out of the Civic Center. Miller's family followed.

The family then attended a private burial at Fairview Cemetery in Willmar.

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