Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Remembering the servicemembers who died in the service of their country.

Army Staff Sgt. Lester O. Kinney II

27, of Zanesville, Ohio.
Kinney was killed in an improvised explosive device attack near Iskandariyah. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 505th Infantry, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Died on January 27, 2004.

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"It is so hard to believe it's been 18.5 years now and when thoughts if you come up, I still get choked up and tears in my eyes. You're still so missed and loved! So many memories were made and her there were so many more that should have been. But God has His reasons. I've left gifts for you where your body lies, and I send up thoughts and love to you often. Please keep looking down and protecting us! ❤️"
C of Trinity

"I miss my friend...."
Jed Bates of saint marys , wv

"Buddy - It is impossible to say how much I think about you. I remember driving up the ALCAN with this dude in a Toyota pick-up that had a "Tattooed White Trash" bumper sticker on the camper. Little did we know that we were heading to the same place and unit. We ended up in HHC/1-501 PIR/172 BDE Sep. Co-squad leaders, Co-section Leaders, BNCOC roommates. SOOOO MANY STORIES! I remember running you to the emergency room at Elmendorf to get glass out of your eye, I remember you yelling at "Private Coffepot" in our room at BNCOC, I remember flying our "Victory Flags" and smoking our stogies coming out of the box at Fort Polk (I still have my flag folded in memory of you). I remember when Aaron Gorrie called to tell me we had lost you and I remember sitting on the sidewalk crying like a baby. You'd be laughing at me now if you could see the tears rolling down my face.
Like many people here I have worn the bracelet that Mark Fajardin gave me for years. In fact, I wore it until Memorial Day Weekend 2016 when it snapped in half. I was crushed. So I decided to find a more permanent solution. I know how much you love tats so I am getting one for you. I go in on Tuesday to get started.
You are missed. What an honor it was to serve with you and call you brother. Save me a seat - we'll ride up again soon!"
Rodger Hargis of Anchorage, Alaska

"Buddy- I retire in 23 days....still wear your bracelet. You are not forgotten. We just did a Remembrance and you were there too. I was blown up in Afghanistan and after the WTU...going home. RIP Cuz."
Russ Nehmer (Son of June Ann Kinney) of Michigan

"God bless you and may your sacrifice help make us a stronger believer in freedom"
KCR of cambridge ohio

"Kinney, I find my self thinking of you often. Journey songs seem to have an effect on me like no other now. Every time I hear "Dont Stop Believin". I can remember you singing that song some days with a huge smile on your face, brighting everyone else around day!! There are so many memories I have and I feel blessed for that. I look forward to the day that me and you can sit back and reminisce about the "Ole Days". We love you Brother and you will never be forgotten. Happy Memorials Day!!!"
SFC William R. Jerry of Colorado Springs

"As the years go by it still seems like yesterday. I think about you guys everyday and I will never forget any of you."
CSM Big Jim Miller USA Ret. of NC

"SGT Kinney,
I heard about your sacrifice a few years ago. Today I was reflecting on all of my soldiers who have given their lives for their country. I remember your smile, your laugh, your crazy sense of humor - the time we jumped your truck Dukes of Hazard style in the backwoods of FT Richardson. I remember you loving life - living it to the full. Just know that you live on in us who knew you and loved you brother.
Rest in Peace.
(Your former Airborne Platoon Leader)"
Major Craig Childs of Afghanistan

"It's been 7 years since this world lost a great man, an incredible husband and most of all a hero. Went to see Buddy 3 weeks ago when my job sent me to WV, I left you a pack of camels, since those where ur favorite even to the point you tattooed the bar code on your wrist. God bless you and your family.."
D. Retana of El Paso, Texas

"It's hard to believe it's been 7 years since Your passing. So many days go by with You in my thoughts. You were an amazing Man and anyone who knew You should have felt blessed to know You. I know You're watching all of us from Heaven, still guarding us, still loving us. We, dearest Buddy, still think of You often and are still loving You."
Candace of Trinity, NC

"To SSG Kinney's family:

May God continue to bless and keep you. May His comfort and grace be yours. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." (Psalm 23)

Buddy is not forgotten -"
Chaplain Christopher Dickey of Fort Bragg, NC

"D-33, playing spades,smoking cigarettes, countless hours on that stupid op, I'll never forget the time that rocket zoomed over us and your first reaction was to knock me down, that just goes to show the type of leader you were."
Chris Horhota of NJ

"”Honor and Remember” - “Project Compassion” We love our Soldiers! We love our country and we cannot express enough love and compassion to the families of our fallen heroes. War does not discriminate – It breaks our hearts to see the faces of the fallen. We want to give this gift to the hero’s Mother, Father and/or spouse. We are a 501c3 nonprofit organization! Over 1,800 portraits have been completed and shipped to the parents and or spouse - at no cost as this is a gift from one American to another!
This is a gift! We have some wonderful sponsors who help with the costs, and only want you know that we care.
Contact us directly at Projectcompassion@manti.com or go to www.heropaintings.com . If you have already had a portrait completed, we pray that you are enjoying the portrait and God Bless You.
Sincerely and Respectfully,
Project Compassion - Kenna of Manti, Utah USA

"I never want to forget the sacrifices of so many young men and women. I am so proud it makes me cry. I understand in theory only that war is a part of human nature but so is love and caring. I wish I could take the families pain away but I can't. I am committed to loving ALL people, myself and our environment. I am committed to working on my happiness everyday because so many have died for my freedom to live my life. Thank you is not enough but it is all I have. All my love and respect. ogersteiner@yahoo.com"
Scott Steiner of Gahanna, OH / USA

"My name is 2LT Vallerie Lacina, I commissioned in the Army straight out of college. I went to www.rangerjoe.com and bought myself a remembrance bracelet for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. My remembrance bracelet reads "SSG Lester O. Kinney" along with his KIA date and where he was in Iraq. I have been wearing his bracelet since my freshman year of college, 2004. I just want you to know that although I did not know him, he still lives on; as a fellow Soldier it is our job to remember those that have walked before us.

Vallerie Lacina of Camp Carroll, Korea

"ssg lester o kinney you are not forgotten and i am one of many who had the privilage to have served with you. r.i.p and thank you!"
t. taylor of washington

"To Buddy's family, i just heard about Buddy and i offer my condolences, i served with Buddy in Hawaii, he will be missed."
Nathan of Raeford, NC

"January 17, 2009
To the family of Staff Sgt. Lester O. Kinney, II:
Lester gave the ultimate sacrifice and will be held in the hearts of Americans forever. I cannot and will not let our fallen heroes be forgotten. My deepest sympathy to you. "Some gave all."
Peggy Childers
"Don't Let The Memory Of Them Drift Away"
Peggy Childers of Carson City, NV

"We still remember you...nobody has forgotten. RIP"
Adam Colby of St. Petersburg, FL

"I am so glad i was able to serve alongside this great soldier while i had the chance. As i look to this Memorial day I look back at all the great times i had with Buddy both in the field / deployments and back at the garrison. I know he is taking care of the other great soldiers that we have been loosing over there like he did everyone down here. I think about him everyday and miss him just that much more everyday."
Mr Touw of Raeford NC

I think of Buddy, Luke James, and Cory Mracek every day- not one day goes by that I don't find my thoughts drifting to them, those that they left behind, and the impression they each made on our lives. Time is supposed to ease the burden, but it hasn't. You are in our prayers and we will never forget Buddy, his sacrifice, and the impression he made on all of us. God bless.

Colonel Bruce Parker
Former Cdr, 2-505th PIR"
Parker of Ft. Bragg, NC

"Oh Buddy! I just finished reading the letters you wrote over the years. I miss you sooo much! I wish, I wish..... God bless you Marisa and family! Buddy, you rejoice with the Lord, for you are now home! I love you. Always have, always will."
Candace of Trinity, NC

"It has been three years since we lost our loved ones, Cory, Buddy, and Luke.
My heart is still heavy as I am sure that yours is. Please know that your family is in our prayers and we think of you often."
The Mracek's of Hay Springs, NE

"Well Buddy i am here now, I pass by F.O.B. Kalsu all of the time. I swore up and down that you were the only man i would follow into combat, now im about to lead others into combat. I can tell that you are here with me, I can feel it. I wear your bracelet, that was once worn by another soldier, who sent it to me when i was recalled. I look at it now, as the dust fills my eyes, it motivates me. and when i think about it. I have still followed you into this. I wont let you down, and i will strive to be as good of a leader as you are. I will keep you in my heart and mind always.
and one day, we will drink those black and tans and laugh about this then."
Spc. Jacob Blaylock of Camp Adder, IRAQ

"SSG Lester “Buddy” Kinney, You were my first section leader at Ft. Bragg and I consider a good friend. You are my mentor and guide to being a great NCO. You have not left my mind and never will. I have worn the same KIA bracelet since I was in Iraq and will not take it off. A picture with Fletcher, You and I on OP Bull Run in the Stan, hangs on my living room wall next to one of my family. I remember you daily thinking of all the fun we had, making the best of the situation we were in. Climbing to the top of a ridicules mountain, stopping too often for a smoke. Before the day started ensuring you had your coffee and listening to endless hours of heavy metal mixed with some Fleetwood Mac. I ran across a few CDs last week marked “BATTLE”, I’m glad I have a piece of you with me. Marisa you are in my prayers. Buddy you are a great leader and a great man."BMF"
Sgt. Casey Randall of Sacramento, CA

"I went out to see Luke and Lester today. It was cold, but sun was out and it was warmer that it had been in days. There were beautiful red roses for Lester and Luke, I added some yellow ones to both. I didn't know Lester, but I thought of his family all day and will keep them in my heart forever."
Dessie Yates(rowdie696@yahoo.com of Andrews AFB, MD

"SSG Lester Kinney was not only a great friend but a wonderful mentor as well. Even though we were in different plt's in the stan, he was a personality that you couldn't help but love. When we got back from OEF and I found out that not only was he coming to my plt, but he was going to be my squad leader. The short time we spent together as soldiers and friends impacted me in a way that words can't describe. I relive that horrible night in my head every day thinking of something I could have done different. Even though I know that I was trained by "Buddy", and he was the best. To Marrisa and the rest of his family I can only give you solice in this. The merrit of a mans life is only determined by the people he effects, and the souls that he touches. Not only did your fallen hero touch my soul, but he touched the souls of everyone else who served with him as well. On top of that I can personally say that his life will impact the lives of children not yet born, through funny stories and lessons we all learned from him. "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori"."
Shane Bare of Wilmington, NC

"Buddy Kinney was a great soldier, friend and cousin and I am honored to have known him. He was definitly one of a kind."
S.Saenz of Fairfax, Va USA

"God bless you brave soldier - you will not be forgotten.
America Salutes Lester (Buddy) Kinney II"
D. Burt of Portsmouth, RI

"I wear SSG Kinney's name on a KIA braclet. After reading these messeges I am glad that he was such a fine NCO and Paratrooper. It is an Honor. I recieved this name randomly but feel that it was Karma that, As a Jumpmaster and former 82nd ABN Soldier, I got it. I will be returning to the "Eighty-Duece" in the spring. When I set up my orderly room there will be a corner for SSG Kinney."
MSG R. Ochsner of Ft. Knox, KY

"SSG Lester "Buddy" Kinney. You were one of my best section leaders that I had the pleasure of having in my platoon. We were in the Stan together and I am glad I had you as one of my Soldiers. I felt really bad after the Stan,when we came back and I had too many NCO's and you went to the other plt, but i know you were happy there. I wish I had kept you in my plt with Neil. I have lurked on this site for over a year trying to come up with something to say but it is hard. Marrisa, I am so sorry for your loss and I know that he is up there drinking some coffee waiting for us to come up there and join him again. Buddy I will miss you forever. Keep the coffee warm Brother."
Darin Touw of Ft Bragg N.C.

"SSG Kinney was HILARIOUS from what i got to see of him. I served with him in afghanistan and iraq. though i was a junior enlisted he was always a pretty cool guy. laid back. im sure he's goofin off right now up there."
Spc. Weime, Nick of Moline, IL

"My heart goes out to you Marisa, as well as to Buddy's Family, and his brother, (I remember how proud he was of you when you went to basic, be safe wherever you go, it's the guys like you and Buddy, who keep us all safe with our families as you face hell, while away from yours....a paratrooper myself (prior serv.) I can say it was an honor serving with an expert like Buddy. May God be with all of you in these tough spots. I will Pray for everyone of you daily.
God Bless."
Jake Blaylock of Houston Texas, U.S. of A.

"Buddy, you were like a brother to me, I would have followed you into anything. I feel that the other's who served under you while in the TOW Plt. 1st/501st PIR feel the same as i do when I say That I love you man! and i will miss you very very very much...
Ill never forget you Buddy. YOU ARE MY HERO. We'll be sipping Black and Tans again someday... and although this breaks my heart, i know that you kicked @#*! Goodbye my friend."
Jake Blaylock of Houston, Texas

"Buddy was my 1st Section leader when i was assigned to the TOW PLT/HHC/1-501 PIR and i knew him for about a year. He was an awesome man and a great guy to have known. I was in Afghanistan when i heard he had been killed and it really affected those of us who had known him. He was an outstanding mentor and will be dearly missed."
SSG Mark Fajardin of Delta Co/TF 1-501 ABN Fort Richardon, Ak

"I hope the passage of time has brought your family some healing, though the heartbreak will never fully heal. Our family is thinking of you today and will never forget those three who died together that day."
of Andrews AFB, Maryland

"Today marks one year since Buddy's death, and he is still thought of often. He was a wonderful man and is missed very much by lots of ppl. He died doing what he loved and believed in which makes his death a tiny bit easier to take for those of us who were lucky enough to know him. I love you and may you rest peacefully in God's hands Buddy."
Candace of Trinity, NC

"I was fortunate enough to have known Buddy. I was lucky enough to see him express infinite love for his family and his wife, Marisa. Buddy brought joy to the lives of many people. Buddy will be forever missed, and his service will always be respected. Thank you, Buddy, for being willing to pay the ultimate price. Marisa, Jack, Barb, Kurtis, and everyone else who loved Buddy- my thoughts and prayers are with you."
Julie Thomas of Roseville, Ohio

"Hey Lester,
I served with you in Afghanistan we worked on cars together, we always talked and messed around, you looked mean but the people who got to know you realized how good of a person you really were. I wiss I would have been there in Iraq with you, I keep you in my heart and mind, I will never forget the sacrifice you gave for this country and for all of us."
SGT Retana, David of El Paso,. TX

"Lester, you are a true hero! Thank you for keeping us safe from harm."
Mrs. Arthur's 4th grade class of Nelsonville, Ohio

"This old paratrooper will never forget the brotherhood of the greatest division in the world. Although I never ran across Kinney, my heart still hurts for my brother. May you rest in peace."
Anthony of Denver, CO

"as i sit here tonight at my home in ft campbell, ky i stumbled across this site and decide to leave a perosnal post to all soldiers but a speical one for those around my area that served i graduated from maysville high school i'm in 1-377 fa i was in oif from the day we crossed till my unit left mosul in jan 04 i'm so sorry that you guys my fallen comrades did not make it back home cpt todd godwin ssg lester kinney cpl gavin neighbor and to the other brave young men who did not return we owe a great debt of graditude to you you guys and your familys you will always have a place in my heart sgt moorehead ricky
ricky.moorehead@us.army.mil its kinda hard to write this since i'm a soldier also but i just wanted to leave a note telling you guys you will never be forgotten as long as i live"
rick moorehead of ft campbell, ky

"SSG Lester "Buddy" Kinney was my best friend. We served together in Afghanistan and where unseperatable. We where shot at for the first time together, took prisoners together, and even wrecked an ATV half way up a mountatin together. I cannot find the words to describe a fraction of how I feel without my friend. Everyday I think of him and wish somehow someway I could have been there with him, perhaps have influenced him not to go on that mission, but I know I can't. I loved him as a brother and will forever feel as thought a piece of my soul is gone. Thank you all for your support and kind words. Marisa I'm sorry I took so long to finally aproach you. Please know however my support and friendship will never run out. Thanks for everything you taught me Buddy, both as a Noncommisioned Officer, and a person."
Neil Fletcher

"As Buddy's Aunt, I am proud and blessed to have had him in our life, though it was too short a time. He brought us so much joy and pride all his life. He loved being a soldier, and believed in doing it the best he could. Thank you all for your prayers, support, and kind words. God bless you, and keep all the troops in your thoughts. Support them regardless of your opinion of the war. They are our sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters. Thank you."
Karen Crawford of Dresden, OH

"SSG Kinney, and those he left behind--I only knew you a short time, but you were always there for us with a helping hand whenever we needed it. Those of us in B Co, with whom you guys in D Co were attached, miss you and not a day goes by where we don't remember what you, Cory, Luke, and Daniel, Robert, and Jamie did for us, and do for us. Go with God, Sergeant."
Sgt RS Burton of Fort Bragg, NC

"Buddy, I knew you when you were stationed In Hawaii and we became great friends. I just wish we would of stayed in touch more often. I will miss you greatly you always kept a smile on my face and in my heart!! You are a great Hero and brave warrior. May your journey be sweet. I will miss you!! Kimberlee"
Kimberlee Ryba of Hilliard, Ohio

"Sergeant Kinney, goodbye soldier and thank you. You are my hero."
Bill of Houston, Texas

"It's been three months now since you lost Lester. We did not know him or Cory but I knew Luke when he was a kid. Not a day goes by that I don't think about what happened to those guys. My husband and I are taking the kids to Arlington soon to visit Luke and will be thinking of you and all you have lost. rowdie696@comcast.net"
Desse Yates of Andrews AFB, Maryland

"To the family of Buddy Kinney. I graduated with Buddy, actually sat by him at graduation, my last name was King, we had alot of the same classes, and when things were in alphabetical order we were stuck by one another. He was kind of quiet, and I remember he was always very polite and just an awesome person to be around. I send out my deepest sympathies to you all, he was a great guy, and I am so saddened by your loss. I can honestly say he was one of the nicest guys I've ever known, anyone who had met him would agree. I am so proud of him, he is definately a hero. He is one of those people you'll never forget. My prayers go out to his family and his wife."
Mandy (King) Fredmonsky of West Salem, Ohio

"To our lifelong friends we can only offer our prayers to you so that the intense grief you must be feeling will be allieviated by the Hands of God. Take comfort in knowing that his ultimate sacrifice for me, my family, and millions of other Americans will never be forgotten. He died for people he didnt even know (who does that sound like). May all who follow always be truthful in Word, Deed and Signature, and bring honor through their service to the memory of those in the Regiment who gave the supreme sacrifice for their country and people. We will never forget him. We love you always!"
Brad and Marisa Juneau of San Antonio, Texas, The United States of America

"Staff Sgt Lester "Buddy" Kinney II was my first cousin, but our family always knew us as brother and sister. Every trial and tribulation of growing up, we were together. As young adults and adults we shared our joy and our grief. He gave our family a lifetime of joy. He brought us a wonderful family memeber when he married Marisa. You will never be forgotten and we are so proud of you Budman! See you on the other side my brother!"
Amy Poorman of Warsaw ,Ohio

"My son, Cory, was with Lester when they were killed. They are all heroes and we will always love them and miss them. I am praying for your family and ours, Mrs. Kinney. God bless."
Pat Mracek of Hay Springs, NE

Please KNOW so many people share your sadness, and we are remembering your family in your loss and your deep grief. Your HERO, Lester, will be remembered by name. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. God Bless you. Pat & Sandi B from Montana "

"Thank you for all your prayers and support. It is comforting to know that people care and I encourage you to continue praying for the men and women of our armed forces to all come home safely. Lester, mostly known as Buddy, was a great husband and I was lucky to have been loved by him. God bless. Mrs. Lester Kinney"
M. Kinney of North Carolina

The Taylors, USMC of NC

"Staff Sgt. Kinney:
Thank your for giving yourself so that those of us at home can live freely. There are not enough 'thank yous' for a gift such as this. Rest in peace soldier"
Dan and Meg Manninen of San Antonio, Texas

"Thank you Lester Kinney II, you will not be forgotten. Your bravery goes beyond words. I want to express my deepest gratitude for your sacrifice. To the family and friends, my prayers and deep condolences in your loss. May God strengthen you from knowing that fellow Americans and people around the world care about you and grieve with you in your loss. God bless you all. A very appreciative fellow American,"
Leo Titus of Grayslake, Illinios

"To the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Lester Kinney II:
May God's grace be with you during your time of grief. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and we feel your loss and share in your sorrow. Bless Lester for the sacrifice he has made to make a better life for the rest of us."
The Ford Family of Wells, Nevada

"To the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Lester Kinney II:
I am saddened by the loss of your loved one. He will always be remembered as a hero for fighting for freedom. I hope that this website will be a source of comfort and encouragement for you during this difficult time, and in the future as you recall the memories of Lester, who continues to live on in your heart."
Tim Rivera of Powder Springs, Georgia

Honor them by remembering... Freedom - is their gift to us But his soul goes marching on