L'ANSE, Mich. (AP) - A soldier described as soft-spoken and polite by those who remembered him from his days growing up in the Upper Peninsula has been killed in Afghanistan.
Pfc. Robert L. Voakes Jr., 21, of L'Anse was among four soldiers who died over the weekend when insurgents attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device in Laghman province, the Department of Defense said Tuesday. They were assigned to a military police battalion from Elmendorf-Richardson base in Alaska.
Voakes' remains were returned to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Monday.
The 2009 Baraga High School graduate was "a very quiet, polite young man who went about his business," principal Dennis Ruuspakka told The Mining Journal of Marquette. "He was very well liked by every teacher and by every student at the school."
Bruce Rundman, a former basketball coach and the guidance counselor at Baraga High, remembered Voakes as having "had a real gentle presence and a quiet wit. Robert was really funny, but unfailingly polite."
Rundman said Voakes provided him with one of the "best laughs of my coaching career. The JVs were scrimmaging the varsity, and it was shirts and skins. Robert looked at me and said, 'Hey coach, when are you going to take your sweater vest off?'
"Robert wasn't a class clown, but had a really great sense of humor."
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