Maine native among killed soldiers returned to U.S.

A carry team carries the transfer case containing the remains of Army Sgt. Joshua J. Kirk of South Portland, Maine, who died in Operation Enduring Freedom, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2009, during the dignified transfer event at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Del. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
AP
A carry team carries the transfer case containing the remains of Army Sgt. Joshua J. Kirk of South Portland, Maine, who died in Operation Enduring Freedom, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2009, during the dignified transfer event at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Del. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Posted Oct. 06, 2009, at 10:18 a.m.

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. — The remains of six soldiers killed in Afghanistan were returned to United States soil Tuesday as about 50 family members watched the flag-draped transfer cases be removed from a military cargo plane at Dover Air Force Base.

The quiet ceremony was punctuated only by a crying child.

The soldiers were identified by the military as Sgt. Joshua J. Kirk of South Portland, Maine; Spec. Michael P. Scusa of Villas, N.J.; Spec. Christopher T. Griffin of Kincheloe, Mich.; Pfc. Kevin C. Thomson of Reno, Nev.; Sgt. Vernon W. Martin, of Savannah, Ga.; and Spec. Stephen L. Mace of Lovettsville, Va.

Kirk, who was 30, was born in Thomaston and moved to Idaho when he was about 5, his aunt Christine Arsenault of Winthrop told the Portland Press Herald on Tuesday. She said he was home-schooled.

Kirk’s mother, Bernadette Kirk Bonner of Bonners Ferry, Idaho, his wife, Megan, and their 3-year-old daughter were among the family members gathered at Dover Air Force Base, according to the paper.

The Portland Press Herald also reported:

“When [Kirk] was in his late teens, he returned to the Rockland area and received his GED from Camden Hills Regional High School. He worked in the construction industry with his father, John Kirk, a Rockland native who died on Christmas in 2007.

“In the fall of 2004, Kirk enrolled in the construction technology program at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland. In spring of 2005, he enlisted in the Army.”

First Lt. Joe Winter, a mortuary affairs base spokesman, said the six soldiers returned Tuesday were killed in Afghanistan, but he could not provide further details.

The soldiers’ arrival comes after hundreds of insurgents armed with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades stormed two U.S. outposts in the mountainous Nuristan province Saturday. It was the deadliest assault on U.S. forces in more than a year. Officials have not yet identified the U.S. soldiers killed in those attacks.

Another of Kirk’s aunts told the Portland Press Herald that a memorial service will be held at Fort Carson in Colorado where Kirk was stationed. Martine Dinsmore of Washington state also said Kirk will be buried in Manchester, N.H., where his wife is originally from.

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