Death of soldier with local link confirmed

Randy Kiehl's voice barely quivered Saturday as he spoke from his Comfort, Texas, home by telephone with a reporter about the death of his son, James.

"I'm proud of my son," Kiehl said.

"He has paid the ultimate price."

Lance Cpl.

James Kiehl is now confirmed as among the 11 dead whose bodies were recovered from an Iraqi hospital last week when Pfc.

Jessica Lynch was rescued by special force troops.

Kiehl was attached to the 507th Maintenance Co.

along with Lynch.

The company is based at Fort Bliss near El Paso, Texas.

The unit was ambushed by Iraqi troops March 23.

Two soldiers were killed outright, five captured and eight were listed as missing in action by the Department of Defense.

Randy Kiehl said he and his wife, Jane, were contacted at home about 7 p.m.

Friday by a base chaplain at Ft.

Sam Houston, and a mortuary affairs officer, and told James was confirmed as among the dead that had been identified.

"They were here for quite some time, well into the night in fact to make sure we were all right," Randy Kiehl said.

"They assured us that if we run into any difficulties that need handling they will handle them for us."

Kiehl said the two men told him there is an ongoing investigation to determine the actual cause of death of his son.

The possibility of war crimes is a focal point of that investigation.

It is not yet known when James' body will return home, so funeral arrangements are pending.

Carol Howland, James' biological mother, lives in Kingman and works for the Mohave County Sheriff's Office.

She has declined to speak with the media since James was declared missing March 23.

James Kiehl also left behind a wife, Jill.

Jill Kiehl, pregnant with the couple's first child, moved to Iowa from Texas when the war began to be closer to her family.

Randy Kiehl said he has not been in touch with his ex-wife.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to other family members who have been notified their loved one was killed in action," Kiehl said.

"This is not a time to grieve for your loved ones but a time to rejoice as they're now in heaven where they're safe and sound."

Sharon Wass owns a restaurant on Stockton Hill Road.

A marquee outside carried the message "Carol Howland – our thoughts and prayers are with you and your son, James – MIA," until confirmation of the soldier's death.

A new message now is displayed simply reads "Support our troops."

"I lost a brother this week (but not in the war), so I know what it's like," Wass said Saturday.

"One of Carol's co-workers was in yesterday to thank us for the sign."

Ray Hernandez is one of Wass' regular patrons.

He was saddened at the news of Kiehl's death.

"I don't know what to say," Hernandez said.

"It's war and these things happen.

Nobody likes war but sometimes you have them."

The mood also was somber Saturday at American Legion Post 14 in downtown Kingman.

Former post commander Phil Brock, who served with the United States Navy in Vietnam and in the Arizona Army National Guard shared his thoughts on the tragic news.

"It's unfortunate, but we're in an armed conflict," Brock said.

"Being a voluntary service (members of the 507th Maintenance Co.) knew of the dangers going in.

"I feel real sorry for the parents and wish it hadn't hit so close to home.

But we've lost (service personnel) in every conflict."

John Snodgrass, who also was at the post, is a veteran of the U.S.

Marine Corps.

"It's wonderful there are young people willing to serve their country and for whom I have all the respect in the world for," Snodgrass said.