Sunday, August 27, 2006

Army Specialist Kenneth M. Cross

Remember Our Heroes

Army Specialist Kenneth M. Cross, 21, of Superior, Wis.

Spc. Cross was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), Fort Lewis, Wash.; killed Aug 27 when his M1126 Stryker Vehicle came in contact with enemy forces using an improvised explosive device and small arms fire during combat operations in Baghdad. Also killed was Pfc. Daniel G. Dolan.

A roadside bomb killed Kenneth Cross, who knew he wanted to be a soldier at age 8

Bob King/News Tribune
Friends decorated the Cross family’s mailbox in honor of their fallen son, Kenneth Cross, who died Sunday in an attack in Iraq.

PARKLAND, Wis. - Cpl. Kenneth Cross proposed to his girlfriend after two weeks of dating. He enlisted in the U.S. Army without discussing it with his parents. Cross, 21, was a man who knew what he wanted in life and made it happen.

Cross was killed Sunday in a roadside bomb explosion in Iraq, his parents, Michael and Elizabeth Cross of Parkland, east of Superior, said Monday.

Based in Fort Lewis, Wash., Kenneth had been in the Middle East for two months, stationed in Kuwait and then Baghdad. As a driver of a Stryker tank, he was trained in frontline combat duties.

"He was a fun kid - always smiling, laughing, joking - you never knew what he was going to do," Michael said.

"He was up to mischief most of the time," said his mother, laughing. She added that he loved kids and animals, and they loved him in return.

As he drove down a road in Iraq recently, a young girl walking nearby with her mother blew Kenneth a kiss, Elizabeth said. He caught it in his hand and smiled at her.

"Everywhere he goes, little kids warm up to him," Michael said.

Kenneth Cross is the second former Superior High School student killed while serving in Iraq. Marine Lance Cpl. Adam Van Alstine of Superior suffered fatal wounds from a roadside bomb in February.

Kenneth dropped out of high school during his senior year and earned his general education diploma, "because he wanted to go right into the service," Elizabeth said.

Influenced by a grandfather who served in World War II, he knew he wanted to be a soldier since he was 8 years old.

"He was determined; he was going to be in the infantry and you couldn't talk him out of it," Elizabeth said. "I didn't think it was the right time for him to go into the service."

Kenneth met his future wife, Heidi, of Steilacoom, Wash., through an online dating service about two years ago. The two were friends for some time before dating; they married in April. The couple had planned to start a family when he returned from Iraq next year, and a reception for those who missed their wedding in Washington was in the works.

"He was always doing something goofy to make me laugh, even on the bad days," Heidi Cross said in a phone interview. "He treated me like a queen and an angel. I don't think we ever had a bad moment."

Kenneth could be trusted with anything, she said, and he wanted a big family like his own, with five brothers and one sister.

She spoke to her husband two hours before his death.

"People say I'm pretty lucky to have talked to him right before it happened," she said, grateful she was able to tell him she loved him. "I don't know how many times."

Kenneth's brother, Cliff Hoyt, said he was "a character."

"A great little brother," Hoyt said. "I used to chase him around the yard, but I could never catch him."

Kenneth liked to play guitar and video games, watch horror movies and jog. He got used to doing push-ups in basic training, his mother said, because his sense of humor often got him in trouble.

But he was intelligent, his father said, and he loved what he did.

The Cross family, possessing a rich military history, was still afraid for Kenneth as he worked in Iraq.

"I told him when he went over there it took me nine months to put him together perfectly, and there better not be any more holes in him than when he left," Elizabeth said. "He didn't listen."

The family was told by military personnel that he didn't suffer.

"That was a big thing," Elizabeth said. "But there are too many wasted lives over there."

Funeral arrangements are pending. The family is unsure when his remains will be returned to the United States or where he will be buried.

The Crosses had just learned his address in Baghdad and had begun assembling a care package filled with drawings from his nieces and nephews, beef jerky and dill pickle-flavored chips, his favorite.

"We weren't prepared for the worst," his mother said. "Kids are supposed to grow up and have grandchildren for you. Hopefully, you live to see the great-grandchildren, and then they carry on. It's not supposed to happen this way."

Army Specialist Kenneth M. Cross was killed in action on 08/27/06.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I knew Ken briefly at Fort Lewis. I remember him being an excellent young man. He had integrity, work ethic, and a sense of humour. As a parent, I'd be proud to have a son that turned out like him.

He is in my thoughts often.