Yankton soldier dies from December attack

Yankton soldier dies from December attack
A Yankton Army National Guard soldier wounded in a deadly roadside bomb in early December, Spc. Allen D. Kokesh Jr., 21, died Tuesday,

Feb. 7, at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, TX.

Kokesh, member of Charlie Battery 147th Field Artillery, was serving in Baghdad in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The IED attack that occurred on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2005, also claimed the lives of Sgt. 1st Class Richard Schild, 40, of Tabor, and Staff Sgt. Daniel M. Cuka, 27, of Yankton. Both were killed when two separate improvised explosive devices detonated near their HMMWVs which were en-route to an Iraqi police station.

A fourth soldier, Sgt. Corey Briest, who also injured in the blast, remains hospitalized.

The Kokesh family has been notified and the South Dakota Army National Guard

is providing assistance in this time of extreme tragedy. Memorial and funeral arrangements are pending.

Charlie Battery was mobilized in July of 2005 and deployed to the Middle East in October 2005.

The news of Kokesh's death was shocking amidst reports he was responding to treatment and making progress, said said Spec. Adam Hardy, a long-time friend and fellow Charlie Battery member.

"I talked to a few people, and Allen's death has been hard on all the people," Hardy said. "What can you say when you hear that kind of news?"

Hardy, 20, said he had known Kokesh since they attended Yankton Middle School. Kokesh was a year ahead of him at YMS.

Kokesh showed a true passion for the military, Hardy said.

Kokesh's young age, and his two-month battle for survival following his battle injuries, make his death even more tragic, said his recruiter, Staff Sgt. Shane Toupal.

"It's heartbreaking. We thought he was going to pull through. We were very surprised (at his passing)," Toupal said. "To lose a soldier, any soldier � but any one that was as energetic and as motivated as Allen was � is going to be a hard loss to overcome."

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