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      U.S. Army Spc. Kurt Kern laid to rest

      He liked steak and garlic potatoes.He was the kind of guy who would stay-up late helping a friend in need - a friend who loved with all his heart.He was at his best when it came to serving in the U.S. Army.A man with a distinct trademark."Ask anyone around who Spc. Kurt Kern was, his platoon leader said, they might not know him by name, but they'll know him by smile."During a Mass to honor the fallen soldier, friends, family and fellow soldiers said they would remember U.S. Army Spc. Kurt Kern for his smile.An improvised explosive device killed the 24-year-old while on patrol in Afghanistan December 27.Close friend Lauren Saca said serving his country was something Kern always wanted to do."When he was going to culinary school|he was really, really passionate about that|he saw that he liked that, but something was still kind of missing, Saca said.There was still a piece that hadn't been filled (and) over time, he moved back to McAllen, and joined the army since he wanted to do so since he was a child."Elizabeth Garza didn't know the soldier personally, but attended his funeral because she said his smile captivated her, compelling her to show her gratitude for his self-less service."It hurts me so much that we're at war, Garza said.This young man died for his country, so that we can have freedom.Many people who didn't know him came to show their respects, because we support the family and all those who fight for our great country."Planes flew over Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery where Kern was laid to rest.His family said although he's physically gone, he lives on in their hearts."We're going to miss him and there's always going to be a space - empty space in our hearts for him, Kern TMs brother said during the Mass.But his memory, and what he's left behind, that's going to be with us forever.""The Kurt Kern" as some friends called him, is the 43rd Valley serviceman to die in wars in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2003."We are losing the radiant glow of somebody who is irreplaceable," Saca said.