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Willmar Guardsman killed in Iraq

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Spec. Kyle R. Miller
Spec. Kyle R. Miller, 19, of Willmar, Minnesota, was killed in Iraq Friday morning when a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle.
Photo courtesy of the Minnesota National Guard

(AP) - A National Guardsman from Willmar died in Iraq after a roadside bomb exploded near his convoy, his mother said Friday.

      The family of Kyle Miller, 19, was notified of his death Friday morning. He had been in Iraq since March.

      Miller, a member of the 682nd Engineer Battalion, is the 40th person with Minnesota ties to have died in connection with the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      Kathy Miller of Bird Island said military officials told the family that her son was in the first vehicle of a seven-vehicle convoy when the bomb exploded, and died on the way to the hospital.

It's hard to believe he's gone. It's been a hard day.

      "He was behind the driver," she said. "My son was doing communications so I thought he'd be safe."

      Funeral arrangements are pending with Harvey Anderson Funeral Home in Willmar. Kathy Miller said it may be a week before her son's body is returned to Willmar.

      "It's hard to believe he's gone. It's been a hard day," she said.

      Kyle Miller lived in Bird Island from the age of 3 to 15, when he moved in with his father, Randy Miller, in Willmar. Randy Miller declined to comment on his son's death.

      Kathy Miller said her son's good sense of humor and artistic abilities always made her smile.

      Willmar Mayor Les Heitke directed that flags be lowered to half-staff in the city Friday.

      The Department of Defense and Minnesota National Guard must wait 24 hours after the last family member is notified before a death can be confirmed, said 1st Lt. Sheree Savage of the Minnesota Air National Guard. A press release then will be issued by the National Guard, Savage said.

      Kyle Miller graduated from the Willmar Area Learning Center in 2005 and completed his basic infantry training at Fort Benning, Columbus, Ga.

      He was among the 2,600 Minnesotans deployed in March in the largest overseas deployment of the Minnesota National Guard since World War II.

                   (Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)