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Sgt. William Rigby, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry, who was recently injured in combat, pays his last respects to his fallen comrade and friend, Sgt. William Kinzer, at a memorial service Wednesday at Ledward Barracks in Schweinfurt, Germany.

Sgt. William Rigby, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry, who was recently injured in combat, pays his last respects to his fallen comrade and friend, Sgt. William Kinzer, at a memorial service Wednesday at Ledward Barracks in Schweinfurt, Germany. (Kristen Chandler Toth / Courtesy of U.S. Army)

SCHWEINFURT, Germany — Sgt. William Scott Kinzer Jr. could count the days.

In barely a month, his unit would fly home to Germany. In less than two months, he would marry his fiancée, Melissa Milks, in Hendersonville, N.C.

It wasn’t to be.

Kinzer, 27, of the 1st Infantry Division’s 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, died Jan. 26 in Ad Duluiyah, Iraq, just east of Samarra, when a rocket-propelled grenade struck his Humvee.

Many friends and fellow soldiers already home from Iraq gathered at an Army chapel in Schweinfurt in Kinzer’s memory Wednesday, two days after his comrades at Forward Operating Base MacKenzie mourned him in Iraq.

“He was the type of person who was always there to lend a hand,” said Pfc. Stephen Bouldrey, who served with him, at the MacKenzie service, “a person you could count on in battle and never worry if he had your back.”

Kinzer grew up in the small town of Salem, S.C. He attended high school at Fletcher Academy, a Seventh Day Adventist boarding school near Asheville, N.C., where he was a gymnast and one of 23 in the graduating class, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times newspaper.

Kinzer enlisted in the Army March 20, 2001. He trained as a cavalry scout and was assigned to Troop B of the 1-4 Cavalry in Schweinfurt later that year.

Last spring, Kinzer deployed to Iraq with his unit. A few months ago, after completing 200 logistical supply missions with Troop B, he transferred to the 1-4 Cavalry’s headquarters troop to become a Humvee driver and gunner for the unit’s noncommissioned officer-in-charge, 1st Sgt. Brent Jurgersen.

On Jan. 26, Kinzer stood in the turret of Jurgersen’s Humvee behind his M240B machine gun, part of a patrol inspecting polling places for the elections that would be held four days later, said Capt. Jeff Paine, the troop commander.

As the patrol passed through an alley, Paine said, two insurgents jumped out and fired RPGs at Jurgersen’s trail vehicle. Kinzer died instantly, and the other three soldiers were injured.

“Freedom requires men like Sgt. William Scott Kinzer,” said Lt. Col. Jim Chevallier, the 1-4 Cavalry commander, at the MacKenzie service, “a man who voluntarily served his nation in a time of war and always performed his duty, full well knowing the potential cost.”

Kinzer’s death hit the 1-4 Cavalry especially hard. It came one day after the unit’s advance party flew home to a joyous reunion with families in Schweinfurt, heralding the return of the rest of the unit in a few weeks. He was the 10th 1-4 Cavalry trooper killed in action.

“It caught us all off guard. We didn’t see it coming,” said Capt. Gary Fisher, the battalion’s chaplain, in his memorial meditation. “The news of the dead and the wounded spread through the task force, snapping everyone back to the sober reality that you’re not out of here until you’re out of here.”

Kinzer is survived by his parents, William and Debra Kinzer; two sisters, Patricia and Katie, and his fiancée. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.


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