Friday, April 15, 2011

Army Spc. Joseph A. Kennedy

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Joseph A. Kennedy, 25, of St. Paul, Minn.

Spc Kennedy was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Knox, Ky.; died April 15, 2011 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with small-arms fire.

Joseph Kennedy was born and raised in Inver Grove Heights and was a wrestler at Simley High School.

He joined the Army in 2009 and was assigned to Fort Knox in September 2010. He was on his first tour of duty.

His mother, Valerie Kennedy, says he "lived life with the volume turned up full blast" and that they were extremely proud of him and his military service.

"...we got to thinking that everything he did throughout his lifetime prepared him for what he chose to do, whether it was leaping and jumping and flying or blowing things up in the backyard. He loved to do that kind of stuff," she said. "And he was good at it."

Joseph Kennedy's father, James Kennedy, said his son was proud to be in the Army and believed he was making a difference in Afghanistan. However, both he and his wife say they did worry about him.

His parents said he always seemed to have wheels underneath him, either rollerblades, bicycles or motorcycles. They say once he pushed his motorcycle to 180 mph.

"It was a massive blizzard the day Joe was born and he's been a blizzard of activity ever since," said his Aunt Cara Skoglund.

Joseph Kennedy's grandmother, Jo Skoglund, summed up how many others characterized Joseph Kennedy's youth. "This kid was high energy," said Skoglund.

He relished driving motorcycles fast, jumping out of airplanes and serving his country. He also got a kick out of pulling one over on whomever he could, his family and friends said.

His mother, Valerie Kennedy, called it his "stinkerishness."

"Joe loved to tease," his grandmother Jo Skoglund said. "I am a very gullible person. He would tell stories and something inside of me would say, 'Well, that can't be right.' ... You watched his eyes twinkle and he kind of gave me a message with his eyes alone as if saying, 'I got her. I got her.' "

Kennedy's younger brother Casey said members of his brother's unit called him "Mr. President" because of his last name. "No affiliation," Jim Kennedy joked.

Kennedy's parents arrived back home late Monday from Dover Air Force Base, where they had witnessed their son's "dignified transfer" to the military mortuary there. Funeral arrangements are pending, they said, though Kennedy will be buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.

Kennedy last spoke with his parents the weekend before his death. He was upbeat about the positive relationships they were building with the Afghan National Army soldiers and the local villagers, his mother said.

"He was doing what he believed was right," she said. "He was good in Afghanistan ... he felt that they were making a difference."

Army Spc. Joseph A. Kennedy was killed in action on 4/15/11.

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