2009-11-11 / Front Page

Soldier meets son for first time

U.S. Army Maj. Michael Kuzara returned home a decorated soldier but it was the people waiting for him that was the true reward — his wife, Bonni, and 9-month-old son Jack.

It was the first time Kuzara, a native of Amherst, had seen his son, who was born while he served a one-year tour of duty in Iraq. He returned to Washington, D.C., in October and is assigned to the Pentagon.

While in Iraq, Kuzara led an 11-man team of combat advisers, who worked to increase the capability of the Iraqi Security Forces.

“He was responsible for building combat effectiveness, operational capacity and sustainable basing for an Iraqi battalion in the tumultuous and restive City of Mosul,” said his father, Joseph, of Amherst.

The entire team returned to the United States, and all are working for the Army around the world.

Kuzara was honored with the Bronze Star Medal for “exceptional meritorious service as a team chief while conducting combat operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was also awarded the Army Combat Action Badge for “having been personally present and under direct hostile enemy fire in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

The major is currently working for the deputy chief of staff of the Army. He lives in Virginia with his wife and son. His parents, including mother Sharon, went to Washington last month to greet him.

“We ’re very proud of him and thankful he returned home safe,” Joseph Kuzara said of his son, who is planning to visit Western New York for Christmas.

A 1992 graduate of Sweet Home High School where he was an athlete and honor student, Michael Kuzara attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, earning a bachelor of science degree in engineering. He also graduated from American University with a master’s degree in economics and earned a doctorate (all by dissertation) in economics. He joined the Army 13 years ago.

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