Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Marine Sgt. Kenneth B. May Jr.

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Sgt. Kenneth B. May Jr., 26, of Kilgore, Texas

Sgt. May was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died May 11, 2010 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Also killed was Marine Cpl. Jeffrey W. Johnson.

KILGORE, TX (KLTV) - It was a sobering day on an East Texas campus and for the city of Kilgore, as a hometown Marine falls in the line of duty in Afghanistan. The Marine was killed only a day after celebrating his second wedding anniversary.
According to his family, Sergeant Kenneth May Jr., 26, served two tours in Iraq, and was on a tour in Afghanistan when he was killed.

"[He was] very giving, very open, very friendly, willing to do anything to help for whatever needed to be done," said Wayne Smith, the Kilgore College band director. "Somebody needs something and he'd help them just a great young man.

May was a Kilgore High School graduate, and was in the choir and played tuba in the band at Kilgore College in 2002-2003. The news of his death is shattering.

The latest confirmation of an East Texas Marine falling in the line of duty brings home the continued fight that servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan face.

Sergeant Kenneth May of Kilgore was killed this week while serving in Afghanistan. This is the second time Kilgore has lost one of their heroes in the war on terror. The loss of the Marine has hit the community of Kilgore hard.

"There's a lot of people here that he sure meant a lot to," said Gregg Brown, the Kilgore High School principal. "War can be a terrible thing. Lot's of times we're sort of de-sensitized to it...A tragedy like this happens and it sort of hits home.

May's death means that Kilgore now has two young men who have lost their lives in the modern era in the war against terrorism. In 2003 Marine Stephen Wyatt fell in Iraq. Both May and Wyatt were Kilgore High School graduates.

"These men and women in armed services put themselves in that position on a daily basis to give us the freedoms, luxuries to come to school and learn, all the things we take for granted," said Brown.

Over this decade we have honored servicemen from Tyler to Longview, from small communities like Hughes Springs and Terrell, adding to the list of casualties bringing war home to East Texans.

"Until it comes home to your community or your county or to a close friend somebody you know, you just don't pay it that much attention until it does," said William Perkins, the VFW 1183 post commander. "They are protecting their country serving their country...It's our duty to show his family that we care."

They join the list of our honored dead now. They have given all in hopes that we will remember.

"We will be there on that tarmac when Mister May comes in," said Perkins.

Veterans of the Patriot Guard plan to be at East Texas Regional Airport to honor Kenneth May when his body is returned to East Texas, tentatively schedule for this coming Tuesday.

"We work so hard to teach service learning and try to get students to learn what a life of service is but here's someone who models that in their own behavior and sets an example for all of us what it means to give an ultimate sacrifice," said Dr. Bill Holda, president of Kilgore College.

Those who knew May at school say they will remember a young man with high character who did not have to join the fight, but made the decision to defend freedom.

"He made the most unselfish of all sacrifices and that is to give up his life for the love and the freedom of others, and that was the person that I think he was," said Smith.

"He had a big heart and lots of friends around him, and my heart weeps as I say this because its just heartbreaking," said Holda.

He is remembered as being tough as boot leather and the best of what this country had to give.

"We probably will never know the full impact of his choice and the difference that it made," said Holda.

Marine Sgt. Kenneth B. May Jr. was killed in action on 5/11/10.

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