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Leemhis, Thomas Ray Pfc. 6/21/07

Binger soldier laid to rest

BINGER, Okla. (AP) - A 23-year-old Binger soldier killed in Iraq was
remembered as a fun-loving, outgoing man during a memorial service at
the high school auditorium where he once played basketball.

About 500 friends, relatives and fellow soldiers attended the service
Saturday at Binger-Oney High School Auditorium for Pfc. Thomas Ray
Leemhuis, who was killed June 21 in Baghdad.

``Freedom does not come cheap,'' Rev. Amos Harjo said during the
service. ``There is a price to pay. There is a cost to defend
freedom.''

Leemhuis and Sgt. Ryan M. Wood, 22, of Oklahoma City were among five
soldiers killed when a roadside bomb detonated near their Bradley
fighting vehicle.

They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 2nd
Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division based at Schweinfurt,
Germany, according to the Defense Department.

Leemhuis has been remembered by friends as a fun-loving, outgoing man
who would do anything to make them smile. He played basketball for
Binger-Oney High School, where he graduated in 2002.

For 10 minutes during the service, photos of Leemhuis' life flashed
on a screen accompanied by a song with the words, ``I'm going home to
the place where I belong.'' In one picture, as a boy, Leemhuis smiled
while wearing a blue shirt with a panda on it. In another he wore a
red cap and gown for high school graduation.

In others, he's surrounded by family or friends, grinning ear to ear.
It ended with Leemhuis' military photo.

Leemhuis was born in Lawton, wanted to make a difference in Binger
when he left the Army and was extremely proud of the military and
being a Native American, those at the funeral said.

Tom Worcester, a relative, told mourners there was a great love but
also a great feeling of sadness in the auditorium. He said he wanted
his cousin to know that Leemhuis is in heaven.

``He is not gone and he is not forgotten,'' he said. ``He will always
be remembered, and he will always be loved.''

Leemhuis' family was given the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
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