BARTLETT, IL, USA U.S. Army SSG, BATTERY A, 2D BATTALION, 122D FIELD ARTILLERY, SYCAMORE, IL BAGHLAN, AFGHANISTAN 10/27/2008
As an Army brat born in an American military hospital in West Germany, Kevin was a patriot from his early youth – an Eagle Scout at age 14 and then enlisted in Navy straight right out of high school serving five years active service followed by 9 years in the Navy Reserve.
Like many of us, he was very upset about what happened on September 11, 2001 and on the front grill of his truck he had letters saying: “9/11/01 Never Forget”. At the start of the invasion into Iraq in 2003, he was deployed with his Navy Reserve unit to Rota, Spain for four months providing support for the ammunition resupply to naval forces moving through the Mediterranean. Shortly after returning, Kevin met his future wife and they were married in April 2004. Kevin and his wife had two children, Joshua and Angeli.
In late 2006, he made a fateful decision that he wanted to do more for his country. He switched services and enlisted in Illinois Army National Guard knowing the potential dangers if his unit was deployed. He was in the process of applying to attend National Guard OCS program but felt that he would make a better officer having first deployed with his unit in combat. He knew the risks that faced him and even said to his wife that he was willing to die for his country, three times if that were possible.
Kevin’s National Guard unit deployed to Afghanistan in late August 2008. While deployed, Kevin sent e-mails to his sister and parents on September 11, 2008. To his sister to wrote, “It is 9/11 and will feel weird all day. I look at photos of the World Trade Center in my room and still can’t believe that happened. And today I am here fighting the bad guys who did this seven years later. I know we are doing our part out here and will bring [to justice] those who want to harm Americans”.
To his parents, “Was there a lot of 9/11 on today? I saw some short shows on Armed Forces Network in the recreation room briefly. I know we did not do anything special for it and [it] was a normal day out here. But for me, I had some self reflection and thought [a lot] about what happened that day. Being here brought a new meaning to that date for me now and from this day forward. I can feel that all the soldiers with me believe in what we are doing and want to defeat the enemy as soon as possible once [and] for all. I know you guys are all proud of me and my soldiers, airmen, Marines, and sailors out here as we all would rather be home. But our country needs us on the front line and we do what is necessary to win. That I can assure you.”
Two days after his 35th birthday, at a major meeting of regional and local police chiefs in Baghlan Province on October 27, 2008, Kevin was killed instantly by a suicide bomber dressed as an Afghan policeman. Another US soldier was also killed along with two Afghan policemen and a young Afghan boy. Kevin is buried at Arlington National Cemetery about 200 yards away from where his paternal grandparents lie in eternal rest.
Ironically, Kevin’s unit returned home on June 1, 2009 – the day his sister’s baby (Kevin’s niece) was born. While the family was in agony over not being able to welcome him home with the unit, new life came into their lives with the birth of Meadow. To add to the irony, June 1, 2008 was one year to the day that Kevin’s sister last saw her brother before he deployed.
Kevin led a full life for his 35 years on this earth; his legacy lives in his two beautiful children.