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3799Family celebrates life of Rochester Hills guardsman killed in Afghanistan

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  • Sunny Jo
    Aug 18, 2012
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      Family celebrates life of Rochester Hills guardsman killed in Afghanistan
      4:50 PM, August 16, 2012

      By Christina Hall

      Detroit Free Press Staff Writer

      To Geraldine McClain, her son Sgt. Kyle McClain was a gift.

      And like certain gifts, she said her son – who was killed Aug. 1 in
      Afghanistan – will be treasured forever.

      McClain’s last words during a eulogy for her son today at St. Mary of
      the Hills Catholic Church in Rochester Hills brought several hundred
      mourners to tears.

      “To my wonderful son, I love you Kyle,” she said.

      Kyle McClain, 25, a combat engineer who lived in Shelby Township with
      his wife, Lisa, was killed in an explosion that injured four other
      Michigan soldiers during combat operations.

      McClain is the 21st person from the Michigan National Guard to be
      killed in action.

      Geraldine McClain previously said that her son had been in Afghanistan
      for about six weeks after tours in Korea, where he was born, and Iraq.
      The soldiers were clearing roadways of improvised explosive devices
      when he was killed, she had said.

      Kyle McClain’s family stood by his American flag-draped casket and
      greeted mourners. Behind them, projected on a wall in the church, a
      photo slideshow played, showing him fishing, playing drums (he was
      part of the Falcon drum line in Rochester High School’s marching band)
      and enjoying time with his family.

      Father Stanley Ulman told mourners that every Sunday the names of
      soldiers who are killed are read “never thinking, never even
      considering that one day we’d be reading the name of a young man close
      to our hearts.”

      But last Sunday, Kyle McClain’s name was read.

      Ulman called him a wonderful young man, loving husband, devoted son,
      good soldier and hero. He said Kyle McClain will be remembered for his
      warm heart, sense of humor and his goofiness.

      Major Gen. Gregory Vadnais, adjutant general of the Michigan National
      Guard, noted that Kyle McClain was a prankster and said he wouldn’t be
      surprised if McClain had something to do with the fire alarm going off
      briefly at the start of communion during the funeral, a comment that
      drew a laugh during the otherwise solemn service.

      Vadnais said he spoke with two of the soldiers wounded when Kyle
      McClain was killed. Both called Kyle McClain a friend. One said he was
      “mature beyond his years;” the other said he was “someone you could
      always count on.” Vadnais called Kyle McClain a soldier, a leader and
      a warrior.

      Geraldine McClain’s moving words included a thank-you to Kyle
      McClain’s birth mother, saying it was a selfless act of love that she
      allowed Kyle to become the McClains’ son through adoption.

      Lisa McClain shared a letter from her husband’s best friend in college
      that was mailed after her husband's death.

      “He never expected anything in return for any thoughtful act he
      provided,” she read.

      Geraldine McClain also read the eulogy from the funeral for her son in
      Afghanistan. It was from Capt. Todd Falor, her son’s commanding
      officer for almost two years. He wrote that Kyle McClain gave 100% and
      was a “great soldier and natural leader” and had the biggest smile of
      anyone there, she read.

      At the end of the service, a member of the Falcon marching band tapped
      a drum while an American flag was draped on Kyle McClain’s casket
      before it was loaded into a hearse.

      Outside the church, Kyle McClain’s family touched the draped casket
      after it was placed in the hearse as a bagpiper played and a large
      American flag hoisted across the entrance to the church parking lot
      waved in the breeze.

      Contact Christina Hall: chall99@...