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Old 11-24-2009, 04:30 AM
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Post L/CPL Nicholas J. Hand, 20, of Kansas City, MO (Afghanistan)

Marine Corps was a second family to lance corporal killed Sunday in Afghanistan
By MEREDITH RODRIGUEZ The Kansas City Star

Lance Cpl. Nicholas Hand always knew the joy and duty of being a brother. He grew up in Kansas City, North, the second-oldest of 10 siblings.

Hand died Sunday in Afghanistan, and his mother comforted herself Monday knowing that her son felt the same loyalty to his brothers and sisters in the Marines as to his siblings.

“When it came down to it, he had two families. He had his biological family, and he had his Marine family,” Dawn Hand said. “You watched his face light up, and you knew that in your heart he was with his family there.”

Hand, 20, of the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, was killed by small-arms fire in Helmand province.

After attending Park Hill High School, Hand graduated early from Oak Park High School and joined the Marines at 17. He was well-liked by his peers, said his older brother, Brandon Hand.

Said Dawn Hand: “He always had a grin on his face. No matter what it was, he would take a bad situation and make it a funny situation.”

Though Hand always was disciplined and patriotic, his inclination for leadership grew in the Marines.

“He was a proud Marine,” Dawn Hand said. “He believed in freedom.”

Brandon Hand recalled how when his brother was growing up, Nicholas each day would write a quote from one of the Founding Fathers or a military leader on a whiteboard.

Hand’s family said they thought the young Marine approached his job as a squad leader the same way he rallied his younger siblings into doing chores.

“He was good at encouraging people and motivating them without being harsh at it,” Brandon Hand said.

This was Nicholas Hand’s second overseas tour. He also had served in Iraq. His body will arrive at 7:15 p.m. today in Dover, Del. Hand’s family hopes that his best friend, a fellow Marine, will escort the casket home.

“I’m not going to tell you it doesn’t hurt, but at the same time, I stand proud for him,” Dawn Hand said. “… Instead of grieving for him, we’re celebrating for him because we were lucky enough to have him in our lives.”

To reach Meredith Rodriguez, call 816-234-4415 or send e-mail to mrodriguez@ kcstar.com.

Posted on Mon, Nov. 23, 2009 11:08 PM

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