- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 21, 2003

CARLISLE, Pa. (AP) — In the days since Staff Sgt. Kimberly A. Voelz died in the arms of her soldier husband in Iraq, mementos from her life have been arriving almost daily at her parents’ home.

First, an e-mail she wrote a day before she died reached her parents’ inbox. Then her green military uniform arrived, bearing ribbons for the Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal.

On Friday, her Christmas present to her brother and sister-in-law came in the mail. The set of six inscribed holiday ornaments bear comforting messages that now seem almost eerie: “Throughout the storm, you do not walk alone.”

“She died and she’s a hero. How great is that?” said her mother, Carol A. Fahnestock. “I know she’s in heaven. She’s not lost to us. She’s just in a different place.”

Sgt. Voelz, 27, was killed Dec. 14 after being called to deal with a makeshift bomb on a roadside telephone pole near the town of al-Haswah, 25 miles south of Baghdad.

Exactly what happened is not clear, but there were reports that surgeons had to amputate her left leg and she suffered a severe chest injury. Doctors had hoped to transport her to a hospital in Germany, but her condition worsened and she died in her husband’s arms at a military hospital in Baghdad.

Mrs. Voelz and her husband, Staff Sgt. Max Voelz, 29, both explosives-disposal specialists based in Fort Knox, Ky., met during explosives training in 1997 and married two years later.

She rose through the ranks and seemed to enjoy work that brought her to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, to St. Louis for a visit by Pope John Paul II in 1999, and on support detail with the Secret Service.

“She was smart, tough, and we got along good,” her husband said.

They both arrived in Iraq in late September, stationed at separate camps but able to stay in close contact.

Sgt. Voelz called his wife’s parents with the news of her death, telling them she had been the best thing that had ever happened to him.

“That was our godsend, that he was there,” said her father, Floyd A. Fahnestock Jr.

Sgt. Voelz escorted his wife’s remains from Iraq, arriving Wednesday at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

The funeral, with military honors, will be held today. Her mother plans to give a eulogy.

“I really want to talk, because I want to tell everyone how great she was,” Mrs. Fahnestock said.

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