Okla. soldier, former OCCC student, dies in Afghanistan

Lt. Joe Lee Cunningham

Lieutenant Joe Lee Cunningham, 27, of Edmond died in Afghanistan Aug. 13 from injuries sustained in a non-combat related incident.

Born April 18, 1984, in Fort Smith, Ark., Cunningham was raised in Kingston, Okla., and graduated from high school there in 2003.

Cunningham joined the Army Reserves as a military policeman in Nov. 2001.

Wanting to pursue a career as an Oklahoma highway patrolman, Cunningham enrolled at OCCC in 2005, but obtained his associate degree from OSU-OKC.

When Cunningham returned from Iraq he served as a weapons instructor for deploying soldiers.

In 2008, Cunningham changed over to the Oklahoma National Guard and served 18 months in the Air Guard before moving to the Army National Guard, where he was accepted to Officer Candidate School.

In August 2010 he was commissioned as second lieutenant and deployed to Afghanistan as executive officer of the B Co. 1/179 Infantry in June 2011.

Cunningham was attending the University of Central Oklahoma to obtain his bachelor degree in sociology.

He loved fishing, hunting, and various sports. He held season tickets for the Oklahoma City Thunder and was a huge Oklahoma Sooners fan.

Cunningham was preceded in death by his mother, Dorothy Cunningham, his grandmother Jackie Turner and his aunt Mary Prater, preceded him in death.

Survivors include his father Kirk Tucker; grandfather Mitchell Tucker; grandparents Rick and Ljuba Cunningham; four sisters; his two brothers; and several aunts, uncles and cousins.

To contact Christy Johnson, email staffwriter1@occc.edu.

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