KURTIS ARCALA / ARMY GUNNER
More than 1,000 paid tribute to soldier killed in Iraq
The Honolulu-born man was killed by a roadside bomb
Hawaii-born Kurtis Dean Kama-O-Apelila Arcala joined the Army hoping to save money for college so he could fulfill his dream of becoming a teacher.
Before his four years were up, Arcala re-enlisted in May.
The 22-year-old gunner was killed Sept. 11 near Tikrit, Iraq, when a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle, his mother said.
"I didn't realize how many people he touched until after he was killed," said his mother, Angela Anderson Berberich. Between 1,000 and 1,100 people attended his September funeral in Palmer, Alaska, where he grew up. Among those attending were military veterans and people his family did not know, his mother said.
Arcala was assigned to the 1st Platoon, Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, based out of Fort Stewart, Ga., which was based in Kuwait.
"Kurtis' aspirations in life taught us that sometimes you must choose a hard path, a hard right over an easy wrong, and sometimes you may find an unexpected passion or realize the importance of being a part of something greater than yourself," said one of Arcala's friends, Tony Draino, in a written statement submitted by Berberich.
He wanted to leave the small town of Palmer and teach physical education, his mother said.
Born in Honolulu, Arcala left the islands for Alaska at the age of 9 months with his mother. His father was supposed to join his family but remained in Hawaii, said Anderson Berberich, who later remarried.
Arcala never knew his biological father, Peter Dean Arcala of Hawaii, who died two years ago.
Arcala is survived by parents John Berberich and Angela Anderson Berberich; brother Jason; sisters Aurora and Kaitlin; grandmother Ginger Lawton; grandparents Ned and Ellen Anderson and Joe and Pat Berberich; great-grandmother Pat Lawton; and many aunts, uncles and cousins in Hawaii.