By Howard Wilkinson
Enquirer staff writer
BATAVIA - Monday night, in front of the courthouse in the county where he was raised, the people who knew him best and hundreds more who never met him honored Sgt. Charles "Chuck" Kiser as a father, a son, a brother and a soldier.
"Chuck loved this country with all his heart," said Bill Grannen, brother-in-law of the 37-year-old Army reservist who was killed in Iraq on June 24. "It is a cliche to say that 'freedom isn't free,' but that is just what Chuck believed."
Kiser, who grew up in Amelia, was buried last week in Wisconsin, where he lived with his wife, Deb, and their children, 13-year-old Alicia and 10-year-old Mark.
Patty Harkleroad, left, embraces Glenda Kiser, mother of Staff Sergeant Charles "Chuck" Kiser at a memorial ceremony at the Clermont County Courthouse.
(Sarah Conard photo)
Kiser died while on security duty at a compound near Baghdad when a truck burst through the gates. Kiser and other soldiers were able to shoot the driver, but the truck swerved, hit an obstacle and exploded. Kiser was killed in the blast; and his superior officers credited his action with saving the lives of other soldiers.
Monday night, on Batavia's Main Street in front of the Clermont County Courthouse, nearly 1,000 people gathered for what county Commissioner Bob Proud called a "celebration" of the life of a soldier who was one of the county's own.
In front of the courthouse steps, on folding chairs, sat the Kiser family - his mother, Glenda; his five sisters; his brothers-in-law; and nearly 20 nephews and nieces.
Next to the fallen soldier's mother sat another Clermont County woman who understands something of her pain - Carolyn Maupin, the mother of Spc. Matt Maupin, the 20-year-old Army reservist from Union Township who was taken hostage in Iraq April 9 and whose fate
Carolyn Maupin, mother of captured Spc. Keith "Matt" Maupin, spoke at the memorial service for Staff Sergeant Charles "Chuck" Kiser.
(Sarah Conard photo)
Major Mark Magalski, the Army's casualty assistance officer who was assigned to help the Maupin family and who has come to know the Kisers as well, told the crowd that the two women have "a bond between them that none of us can fully understand."
Magalski said that the two women met two weeks ago, when Glenda Kiser invited Carolyn and Keith Maupin, the soldier's father, to Mass at St. Bernadette Church in Amelia. They held each other throughout the service.
"Not one word needed to be said between them," Magalski said.
Carolyn Maupin spoke briefly Monday night.
"Thank you, Staff Sgt. Kiser, for making the ultimate sacrifice," Mrs. Maupin said. "His life should be an example that shows us freedom is not free."
The family of . Kiser, who was awarded the Bronze Star posthumously, paid tribute to the Maupins as well.
The Maupin family, Grannen said, "are truly amazing people. Here they are in the middle of this terrible situation of their own, and they keep calling Glenda nearly every day to see how she is doing. They are a wonderful family."
U.S. Rep. Rob Portman, a Terrace Park Republican, and U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, spoke as well.
Portman said that when he called Glenda Kiser after learning of her son's death in Iraq, she "asked me for but one thing - to make sure that her son's death was not in vain, that we finish the job in Iraq."
Monday night's event was the public acknowledgement of the Kiser family's sacrifice. On Wednesday, the family will have a 7 p.m. Mass at St. Bernadette Church in Amelia, with visitation from 5 to 7 p.m. in a building adjacent to the church.
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