Monday, April 23, 2007

Army Staff Sgt. Kenneth E. Locker Jr.

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Kenneth E. Locker Jr., 28, of Wakefield, Neb.

SSgt. Locker was assigned to the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died April 23 in Sadah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his location. Also killed were 1st Lt. Kevin J. Gaspers, Staff Sgt. William C. Moore, Sgt. Randell T. Marshall, Sgt. Brice A. Pearson, Sgt. Michael L. Vaughan, Spc. Jerry R. King, Spc. Michael J. Rodriguez and Pfc. Garrett C. Knoll. -- Ten years in service, a lifetime commitment.

28-year-old Ken Locker, Jr., was killed Monday in a suicide attack in Iraq.

"Kenneth likes to tell people, life is but a dream, make it whatever you wish," reads a 1997 edition of the Burwell Tribune.

Those words were spoken by Ken Locker Jr., nearly 10 years ago. Ken, better known as Kenny, wanted his classmates at Burwell High, to know he was living his dream. A dream to serve our country. He enlisted in the military in 1997 while he was still in high school.

"At that point in his life, he was a pretty unfocused individual. He went into the military. I visited with him several year later, and there was a 180 degree change in demeanor, posture, outlook on life and focus," remembers Bob Lee, his math teacher.

It was that focus and determination that residents teachers and friends will remember most.

"It was an extreme honor for him to serve our country. I am thankful for people like Kenny, who serve our country. That have fought and died for our daily lives, so we can go on with our daily lives and do what it is we do," says English teacher Candace Cain.

"My last phone call with him, was moving, inspiring, uplifting. When the phone call ended, I said wow. And my wife remembered that I had said that. His focus and his dedication to his country and his pride were just inspiring," says Lee.

World War II was the last time Burwell residents have had a soldier die in combat. It's a reality that for some is hard to swallow.

"These generations of students who haven't grown up in an environment where there is war, this is a lesson. And it's a hard lesson. But it's the price for what we have in our lives with democracy," says Cain. "It makes the war in Iraq even more real. In Burwell, we've seen the price for freedom, one of our hometown boys who've payed the ultimate price."

The ultimate price for our freedom. It's a price that won't soon be forgotten.

"I think people should be very proud. Our community should be very proud of Kenny," says teacher Tim Hulburt.

"I was saddened by his death, by at the same time, proud of him, knowing that he gave his life for something he truly believed in," says Lee.

"His final last words are you live and you die. Make the best of it."

Army Staff Sgt. Kenneth E. Locker Jr. was killed in action on 4/23/07.

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