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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Soldier told wife little of real danger

By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer

Pvt. 2 Jeungjin "Nikky" Kim went to Iraq thinking no one he knew would get hurt.

Pvt. 2 Kim
But that changed on the dangerous streets of Ar Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad, an insurgent stronghold and frequent scene of clashes with the soldiers and Marines who patrol the region.

Kim, 23, a South Korean national who loved Hawai'i and considered it his home, didn't talk much with his wife about the dangers he faced with the 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery.

Those dangers caught up with him last Wednesday, when he was killed in a roadside bomb and small-arms attack while on patrol.

Kim had deployed with the 2nd Infantry Division out of Camp Hovey, South Korea, in August, spending a month in Kuwait and arriving in the Sunni Triangle of Iraq just before his first child was born on Sept. 7.

A Young-Kim, who followed her husband into the Army, knew he was an artilleryman. She was surprised to learn he was out on patrols.

"I said, 'What kind of patroling?' " said Young-Kim, who grew up in Hawai'i and graduated from Hawaiian Mission Academy in 1999. "He didn't tell me he was patroling in a vehicle. He always tried to sound cheerful for me on the phone because I just had a baby."

The truth came out in a post to HawaiiGamer.com, a gaming Web site. Kim, who liked to play the online game Counter-Strike, posted two messages about life in Ramadi on Oct. 5, the day before he died.

"Maybe some of you guys are interested," he wrote in his post. "I kinda need to type this ... out."

Young-Kim, 23, a private first class stationed in South Carolina, is still on maternity leave and staying at her mother's apartment in Makiki. She's trying to stay positive and celebrate her husband's life, rather than dwell on his death.

Well-wishers can send condolences to Young-Kim at 1212 Punahou St., Apt. 3107, Honolulu, HI 96826.

Soldier's message

Here are excerpts from an e-mail to friends from Pvt. 2 Jeungjin "Nikky" Kim, killed last Wednesday in Iraq.

Oct. 5, 4:41 a.m.

"Well just two days ago one of my buddies lost part of his right leg ... he was pulling overwatch for his Humvee after an (improvised explosive device) sweep with his two other soldiers. An Iraqi took a shot at them with (a rocket-propelled grenade) and missed the Humvee. (It) hit him in the leg and went across the road and blew up.

"It was so fast that all they saw was a trail of smoke and next thing you know he's down on the ground shooting.

"I've been here for about two months now. I was never fazed (or realized) how bad this place is until two days ago. Couple people died from my battalion. No one that I knew in person.

"Mortar round come in every once in a while. I felt like my battery would never get hit by one though. For some reason I felt like no one I knew would get hurt. I guess I was in some type of denial.

"Yesterday when I was out there, some Iraqi took a shot at us with an AK-47 (rifle, rather) than with an RPG. Then got hit with (an) IED. We've got a mission going on about every two days. Kicking doors in. Searching people's houses. Well I better go get some rest, got another mission kicking in about seven hours. Laters guys. Support the troops not the politics."

Oct. 5, 4:55 p.m.

"I just came back from the mission. Trying to get online as much as I can since I don't know when it's gonna be my last time online. Anyhow we got us a bad guy who makes explosives and found a bunch of AK-47 (rifles) and wires and paper works. First successful mission so far. Had to drive big ... tank in to the town.

"Anyhow, yea over here we can't get away from politics ... everything we do got something to do with politics. Gotta play Mr. nice guy when we are getting shot at. Get about two to four hours of sleep. I'm so tired, but now I gotta go back out there in about an hour. Anyhow I'll keep on posting stuff here.

"Thanx for your support."

Reach William Cole at wcole@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-5459.