Small Wisconsin town mourns soldierby Bob Kelleher, Minnesota Public Radio
The small community of Minong, Wisconsin, is mourning someone described as a nice kid who has died in Iraq -- Harry Timberman, a U.S. Marine. Lance Cpl. Timberman, 20, died Saturday from combat wounds suffered in the Al Anbar Province.
Minong, Wis. — Minong is a typical small town you might pass through on the way somewhere else. It's a junction in northwestern Wisconsin on Highway 53, which serves as a gateway to the region's lakes.
The teenaged Harry Timberman and his mother moved to Minong from Colorado in 2001.
Harry attended Minong's Northwood School. Rosemary Doyle is a guidance counselor there. Doyle's been thinking about Timberman, his mother, and the local girl Harry was going to marry. Doyle says Timberman could be funny and engaging.
"Harry was -- it's hard to say in the past tense here. He had such a life, and such presence. He was a funny kid, and full of spirit," says Doyle. "He was a giving kid. He was in our peer helper group."
The peer helper group helps bring younger kids into school activities, and organizes school events with them.
Timberman wrestled for the high school team, the Evergreens. Doyle says Timberman participated in everything he could. He was the kind of kid you'd remember.
"You just knew when he was in the room. You know, he commanded attention. He was funny at times, and he could be serious when he needed to be," Doyle says. "But he was most of the time a pretty happy boy, and very involved in school activities."
Timberman attended the Northwood School a couple of years, and graduated in 2004 from the Washburn County Alternative High School in nearby Shell Lake, Wisconsin. A year later, he enlisted in the Marine Corps.
When enlisting, Timberman came back to the Northwood school and asked Doyle to be a character reference.
"When he first came to us and said he needed some signatures from us here at the school, that he was joining, my concern was, 'Oh, my gosh. There's a war going on.' And yet he just took to it," Doyle says. "We had seen him twice before his death in his uniform. He had come over to the school to meet with everyone that he knew. He just looked great. He looked like such a grown-up man. It's such a tragedy."
Timberman served as a Marine Corps rifleman, based out of Twentynine Palms, Califormia. His unit deployed to Iraq this past January. Saturday, the Corps told his mother he had died.
Bad news spreads fast in a town the size of Minong, with fewer than 900 people. Everyone seems to know everyone else.
The Northwood School has about 400 students spanning pre-kindergarten through the 12th grade. Still, Doyle says, most of the kids who knew Timberman are gone now.
"But I was able to hear from a couple of kids. They called back to find out how everyone was doing," says Doyle. "And they're all just shocked, my daughter included. She was in that class, too."
Doyle says Timberman's fiancee, Carla Gustafson, and his mother, Cynthia Coshow, are taking it hard.
"She's just overwhelmed; not taking calls. And, you know, very appreciative of all the good wishes, though," says Doyle. "From talking with Carla and her family, they just want the story on Harry, what a neat kid he was, how proud of him everyone is, and how much he'll be missed. We just can't even believe it actually happened."
Timberman is survived by his mother in Minong, as well as his father, Harry Timberman, two brothers and a sister who live in Colorado. No plans have been announced for funeral services. Harry Timberman is the 70th soldier from Wisconsin to die in the Iraq war.
- All Things Considered, 03/20/2007, 5:54 p.m.