by David Jennings
Earlier this year, Jacksonville was heartbroken over the loss of Captain Kyle A. Comfort. He was 27 when he was killed in action on May 8th by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.
Comfort’s story of heroism, bravery, his loving wife and his sweet baby daughter not only touched the entire area, but also reached nationwide.
A month ago, Paige Horwath, an 8th grader in St. John, Indiana (a suburb about 30 minutes from Chicago) was given an assignment for school: write an essay on who you consider to be an American hero and why.’ The essay was a requirement for her and all of her eighth grade classmates.
Mary Horwath explained what her daughter, Paige, wrote about.
“My daughter chose her hero to be the American soldier and dedicated the second half of her essay to Captain Kyle Aaron Comfort,” said Mary. “She found Captain Comfort by doing research on the Internet and was captivated by the articles describing him, his family and his service.”
“I wanted to write about an American soldier because that is what I think about when I hear ‘hero’,” said Paige.
“Although she has never met Captain Comfort her heart was swept up with seeing his little baby girl, his family and all of the beautiful articles about him,” said Mary.
The assignment doubled as a contest. The winner of the essay contest would have the honor of laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during the 8th grade class’s trip to the nation’s capital.
“When she was done with the essay we both agreed if for some crazy reason she won she would dedicate the laying of this wreath in the memory of Captain Kyle Aaron Comfort and his family: wife Brooke and his baby daughter Kinleigh,” said Mary.
A few weeks ago, Paige came home to tell her mom that her essay had won the contest. Paige says that the essay was truly won for Captain Comfort and his honor.
On October 13th at 3:15 p.m., just minutes after the Changing of the Guard Ceremony, Paige was allowed to lay a wreath at the tomb and read her essay.
Chris Hopes, fellow Army Ranger and Capt. Comfort’s best friend, was able to attend the ceremony. Hopes was very close to Capt. Comfort, delivering his eulogy at his funeral.
After the ceremony, Hopes met with Paige and her classmates to talk and share some memories. Before leaving, Chris gave Paige a silver bracelet, a gift from Brooke that had Kyle Comfort’s name inscribed.
Mary said that since they have gotten in touch with Brooke that their lives have been changed forever.
“I will tell you this was an amazing journey that my family will hold dear to our hearts forever,” said Mary.
Although many months have passed since Kyle Comfort’s sacrifice, his story of bravery and loving spirit lives on thanks to Paige.
“I didn’t expect for all of this to get so big. It was really cool,” said Paige.