Minnesota Marine laid to rest Saturday

January 12, 2019 10:25 PM

Hundreds of people gathered at Tri-County High School Saturday for the funeral of Lance Cpl. Riley Kuznia.

The 20-year-old Marine was shot and killed on New Year's Day in the Marine Barracks in Washington D.C. where he was stationed.

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Originally from Karlstad, Minn., family members say Kuznia was living out his childhood dream of serving in the military when he was killed.

RELATED: Marine from Minnesota fatally shot at barracks in DC

Kuznia's body was flown to Fargo Thursday night. A procession escorted the body into Minnesota and to the family's house, where two Marines retired the flag that was flown in front of the home.

Kuznia's mother, Markelle, eulogized her son Saturday at the service. She told many stories about Kuznia when he was young, recalled his hunting triumphs and mishaps, and talked about his decision to enter the service.

"Riley lived with no regrets," his mother said. "Who could ask for more."

Markelle Kuznia also gave two pieces of advice to the congregation gathered at the school.

"Make memories," Markelle said. "They're the biggest comfort you're ever going to have. And the second is [to] let your kids follow their dreams."

Community members sang the Marine Hymn together, fighting through tears. When the service was over, the family gathered outside as Kuznia's fellow Marines carried his casket to the hearse.

RELATED: Hometown remembers Marine killed in fatal barracks shooting

Kuznia was buried at Salem Lutheran Cemetery in Stephen. His high school band and shop teacher, Brad Thompson, played taps on the trumpet at his graveside as the fallen Marine received full military honors.

Jodi Bachand, who attended the service, said it was a beautiful tribute.

"I didn't know him but his mom was an amazing person and she's a very strong woman," Bachand said. "It was just great to see the outpouring of love from the community and the surrounding communities."

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Kirsten Swanson

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