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      Football coach remembers Spc. Kurt Kern

      It is the home of the Mustangs, and for four years, a second home to Army Specialist Kurt Kern.

      The McAllen Memorial High School Class of 2006 graduate was also a member of the football team.

      "He was a team player he was a kid that always had a smile on his face, Mustangs Head Football Coach Bill Littleton said.

      He was a pleasant young man to be around."

      Littleton said he worked with Spc. Kern for about three years.

      The fallen soldier played with number 51 as a defensive tackle on the football team.

      "He started for our senior year and had a good solid year his senior year and did a good job for us," he added.

      But more than just a football player, Spc. Kern also loved to cook.

      After graduating from high school, he enrolled at the Texas Culinary Academy in Austin.

      He graduated in 2008 and then decided to join the U.S. Army.

      Kurt's commitment was clear. His family says he volunteered to deploy with another unit after his original deployment was cancelled.

      But his deployment came to an abrupt end last week when an improvised explosive device struck his unit on December 27, killing him and two other soldiers while on patrol in Paktia, Afghanistan.

      "It TMs a terrible thing anytime a young man loses his life at such an early age, Littleton concluded.

      It TMs always a tragedy; it TMs a terrible thing to happen.

      But I believe that Kurt was doing what he wanted to do to defend his country and he was doing an outstanding job for us and just a terrible situation."

      It is a situation the family of Spc. Kurt Kern will have to deal with from now on.