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MIA soldier baptized before battle; pastor’s son KIA

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–An American soldier listed as missing in action apparently accepted Christ and was baptized several days before being captured.

James M. Kiehl, 22, of Comfort, Texas, was the focus of a report on Dallas’ KTVT-TV March 26, during which Kiehl was seen being immersed in the middle of the desert.

Kiehl is one of seven members of the 507th Maintenance Company — part of the 111th Air Defense Artillery Brigade stationed in Fort Bliss, Texas — listed as missing in action. Five other members of the 507th have been seen on Iraqi television and are listed as prisoners of war.

During the television report, KTVT’s Robert Riggs said Kiehl “seemed to have a deeper awareness about the dangers of combat than any soldier we talked to.”

“You’ve always got the threat of something new,” Kiehl said during the report. “Every morning you wake up and it’s happening on that morning.”

Riggs reported that Kiehl “turned his life over to Christ shortly before the launch of the ground attack. … His moment of decision had been prompted by a call from home — a family member told him it was time to pick the right path for his life.”

Kiehl’s wife, Jill, is pregnant with the couple’s first child and is due the last week of April, according to KFOX-TV in El Paso, Texas.

“You know, your mind wants to play tricks on you and you always wonder,” she said in an ABC News report. “Missing in action is pretty general. You don’t know whether he’s alive or dead. You just know, they don’t know where he’s at.”

Another member of Kiehl’s company, prisoner of war Patrick Miller, 23, from Valley Center, Kan., accepted Christ during marriage counseling sessions at Olivet Baptist Church in Wichita last year, Baptist Press reported March 25.

Meanwhile, the son of a missionary Baptist church pastor in Prichard, Ala., has been killed. Howard Johnson II, 21, was killed in combat in Iraq March 23. His father is Howard Johnson, pastor of Truevine Baptist Church in Prichard.

“He was God’s gift to us and the Lord has taken him away,” Johnson said in an Associated Press story.

Before Johnson’s son was deployed, the pastor told him to conduct himself in a Christian manner.

“No matter what anybody else did — drinking, doing drugs, what have you — remember that he was not to partake of that. Keep yourself clean, so the Lord will be on his side,” Johnson said in the story.

Church members praised the younger Johnson’s service.

“He served all over the church, was active in the Sunday School and active in the children’s ministry,” church member Andretta Thomas said, according to The Birmingham News. “He was a productive young man at the church. I think all of us are torn up about it.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: JAMES M. KIEHL.

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