OLNEY, IL, USA U.S. Army SGT, COMPANY A, 3D BATTALION, 21ST INFANTRY, 25TH ID, FORT LEWIS, WA MOSUL, IRAQ 03/30/2005
Sergeant Ridgley and his fellow Stryker troops had surrounded insurgents in a car when one of the three men inside the car fired a weapon spraying shots in all directions and killing Sergeant Ridgley. Five other soldiers were also wounded during the incident.
Sergeant Kenneth L. Ridgley died March 30, 2005, in Mosul, Iraq, of injuries sustained when enemy forces using small arms fire attacked his unit. Sergeant Ridgley was assigned to the Army’s 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), Fort Lewis, Washington.
Kenneth Ridgley was a thirty year old Steilacoom resident from the Olney, Illinois area of the USA. Family said that from the early age of eight or nine, Kenneth had set his sights on being a soldier. It was all he ever wanted to do. He’d even go down and hang out at the recruiting office.
When he married his wife Charity in August of 2004 he was already in the process of adopting her three-year-old son, Dillon. The couple had purchased a house not long before his deployment to Iraq in October. Charity was a pre-nursing student at Pacific Lutheran University and also a cadet in the school’s ROTC program. Kenneth looked forward to being a father to Dillon. Everyone anticipated the leave time he had scheduled just a month before he died. Kenneth had also planned on going into nursing after his service.
In 2003, Sergeant Ridgley volunteered to serve as a medic during the initial invasion of Iraq, helping to care for the wounded from Baghdad. He soon became a squad leader with Fort Lewis’ Stryker Brigade, had a new wife, Charity; bought a house in her hometown of Steilacoom; and adopted her 3-year-old son, Dillon, before heading back to Iraq. Kenneth Ridgley was his mother’s only child. When she married, her husband became the only father Kenneth knew and Sergeant Ridley was in the process of building the same kind of relationship with young Dillon.
Sergeant Ridgley left Southern Illinois University where he was a roper on the rodeo team. He left college after four years of indecision about life and became a certified farrier – blacksmith. He loved horses. He worked in Colorado as a wrangler-farrier and gained the toughness that comes from that work. He was a 1993 East Richland High School graduate and a member of the Illinois National Guard during his senior year. After six years with the Guard he joined the Army. 9-11 caused him to wish he’d joined the Army right after high school.