Hundreds of People Gather in Karlstad to Honor Fallen Marine
Lance Corporal Riley Kuznia passed away on New Year's Day
KARLSTAD, Minn. — Things were very somber inside a packed gymnasium at Tri–County High School.
There family, friends, hockey teammates and brothers in arms came together to celebrate the impact Riley Kuznia had on their lives.
Many people remember him as a caring and compassionate man who loved standing up for others and supporting his family.
In a eulogy, Riley’s mom, Markelle, fondly recalled how her son loved to be outdoors, whether he was rabbit–hunting or playing hockey.
When she was reliving her favorite memories about her son, some people could not hold back the tears.
“For one guy to have that much impact on everybody’s lives, he’d have to be a pretty good guy,” said Trey Taylor of Karlstad.
Giving back to his country was something that Riley wanted to be a focal point of his life.
After joining the Marines, Riley became part of a brotherhood that prides themselves on being there for each other through good and bad.
“The Marine Corps has a band of brothers, you never leave anyone behind,” said Jeff Cook, a retired Marine.
Once they found out about his passing, some Marines drove in from Winnipeg to give tribute to their fallen brother.
“Once I heard about that and found out he was from Karlstad, I knew it’s a couple hours from where I live so I had to come down,” Cook said.
Others, including those who served with Riley in Washington DC, flew up to say goodbye.
“I think the family realizes that when Riley became a member of the Marine family, they also became members of the family. It’s really an honor in itself to have those Marines come that far to honor Riley. I think that’s great,” said Joseph Witherill, the Commandant for the Metro Marines based out of Minneapolis.
People say they remember Riley for his smile, selflessness, and his ability to help others.
Even for those who didn’t get to meet him, some people are inspired by how he positively impacted those around him.
“From what I could tell from the slide show and all the kind words, I can tell you he was a good guy,” Taylor said.
At the end of her eulogy, Riley’s mom said she was extremely proud of her son for living out his dream of becoming a Marine, and that in his 20 years of life, “he did not have a single regret.”
Kuznia passed away on New Year’s Day after he was accidentally shot during a shift–change at the Marine Barracks in Washington DC.