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'Thank God for Sgt. Kinlow': Thomson soldier remembered as hero, friend, husband, father, son

LINCOLNTON, Ga. - In the Lincolnton church he grew up attending, Sgt. James Kinlow was laid to rest Wednesday afternoon.


Jacquez Hearst - one of Sgt. James Kinlow's godsons - looks at the funeral program Wednesday.
Photo by Chris Thelen/Morris News Service
"This is by far the hardest thing I've ever had to do, losing a brother, a fellow soldier and a friend," said Staff Sgt. Richard Moses, Sgt. Kinlow's squad leader in Iraq.

More than 500 people gathered in the sanctuary, fellowship hall and outside First Baptist Church in Lincolnton Wednesday to mourn the 35-year-old soldier from Thomson who was killed July 24 by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

"James was my boy," said Zoah Ministries Pastor Frankie Jones, adding it was heart-wrenching that it took such a tragedy to bring people together. "I wonder if James was here celebrating his birthday today, would we still be here showing all this love?"

Wednesday's service was marked by prayer, praise, poems and a solo by Gussie Norman.

"When you hear of my homegoing, don't worry about me," she sang. "I'll just be a soldier on my way home."


Honor Guard soldiers with the United States Army carry sgt. James Ondra Kinlow to a hearse Wednesday.
Photo by Chris Thelen/Morris News Service
During her solo, some in the congregation clapped. Others swayed. Some raised their hands to heaven. And some just cried.

But the mood of the day wasn't necessarily supposed to be sad, said Rev. Dennis J. Quinn - who married James and Daphanie Kinlow more than 12 years ago and fondly remembers his many basketball games against Sgt. Kinlow.

He said the day was a celebration of a man who exhibited the greatest love of all: he laid down his life for another, referring to John 15:13.

"I believe it's even greater when you lay down your life for people that may or may not like you," he said. "Sgt. Kinlow is my hero."


Zoah Ministries Pastor Frankie Jones prays over the casket of Sgt. Kinlow.
Photo by Chris Thelen/Morris News Service
He said the tears are just part of the process.

"You might have to cry now Sister Daphanie...but God Himself will wipe the tears," he said to Sgt. Kinlow's widow.

Pastor Tonita Cody encourages people to continue supporting the Kinlows.

"If you want to continue to be a blessing to him, love his family," she said. "Don't just love them today. In five years check on Brother Kinlow's wife, his children, his parents."

Gregory Leverett, who grew up with Sgt. Kinlow, took that message to heart. He said he spoke with Sgt. Kinlow - "Dully" as he called him - just before the soldier was deployed to Iraq. Sgt. Kinlow asked him to keep an eye on his family.


Daphanie Kinlow is escorted by Roger Green with Norris W. Gunby Sr. Funeral Home Wednesday after the burial of her husband.
Photo by Chris Thelen/Morris News Service
"He was more like a brother to me than a classmate," Mr. Leverett said. "That's the man that taught me the jumpshot."

Sgt. Kinlow's first cousin, Minister Derrick Kinlow, called on those in the sanctuary to turn their lives over to God - just like his cousin had.

"You don't know what's going to happen tomorrow," he said. "James was only 35 years old... but he had sense enough to say 'yes' (to God)."

Pastor Jones said the Kinlow family should take comfort in knowing that God is with them.

"God can be a father, husband, brother," he said.

And he said a special prayer for Sgt. Kinlow's parents.

"Nobody expects their children to go before they do," he said.

Pastor Cody said she could see Sgt. Kinlow in the faces of his children, Chauncey and Chelsea.

"When I look at them, I see that same smile," she said.

Sgt. Kinlow was buried with full military honors in Savannah Valley. Posthumously, the soldier received several medals, including the Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal and the Bronze Star.


Reverend Dennis J. Quinn speaks Wednesday August 3, 2005 during a service at the First Baptist Church in Lincolnton for Sgt. James Ondra.
Photo by Chris Thelen/Morris News Service


Members of the Georgia Army National Guard and friends of Sgt. James Ondra Kinlow watch live feed of the funeral service outside the First Baptist Church in Lincolnton due to so many people packing the church for the service.
Photo by Chris Thelen/Morris News Service

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Web posted on Thursday, August 4, 2005


Temperature:53° F
Wind:from the W at 5 MPH
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Updated: 04-Nov-2010 10:01

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