Family and friends of 2nd Lt. Joe Cunningham are still trying to come to grips with his death, which occurred on Aug. 13 at the Laghman province of Afghanistan.


Family and friends of 2nd Lt. Joe Cunningham are still trying to come to grips with his death, which occurred on Aug. 13 at the Laghman province of Afghanistan.

 

A Department of Defense press release said Cunningham died of injuries sustained in a non-combat related incident while assigned to the 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Oklahoma Army National Guard.

 

Cunningham’s funeral service has been set for 11 a.m,, Saturday at First Baptist Church in Madill. He will be laid to rest at Kingston Cemetery.

 

Cunningham joined the Army Reserves as a Military Policeman while at Kingston, where he graduated in 2003 and dedicated his life to service. After working as a detention officer at the Marshall County Detention Center, Cunningham signed up for a tour of duty in Iraq in 2005. After that tour, he joined the Oklahoma National Guard and was deployed to Afghanistan in June.

 

“The military was a big part of his life,” Marshall County Undersheriff Donny Raley said. “His goal was to be an Oklahoma Highway Patrolman. He emailed me six months ago and was excited that the OHP had reopened the academy.

 

“He would have been a very good officer, he would have given his heart and soul to fulfill that dream. He was always so cheerful and happy, he never seemed to have a bad day.”

 

It was those attributes that helped make him an outstanding soldier, Raley said.

 

“He loved helping people,” he said. “That was part of his military stint, he loved serving his country.”

 

I have been in touch with several of the family and they are distraught. No one really understands what happened and that puts an edge on things.”

 

Michael Pineda
221-6542