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Ken joined the US Army in 1972. The economy was bad,
or he got tired of working in a factory in Michigan in between being laid
off. Either way, his decision was to volunteer for the US Army during
the time of the draft in America. He subsequently volunteered
for duty in Vietnam. Ken remained in the US Army until his death in
Lebanon September 20, 1984.
His tours were:
Vietnam - Courier Service
Brussels, Belgium - Courier Service
Tehran, Iran - US Embassy
Dublin, Ireland - US Embassy
Cameroon, Africa - US Embassy
Beijing, China - US Embassy
Beirut, Lebanon - US Embassy
In 1972 Ken went to Vietnam and was assigned to the
courier service known as ARFCOSTA
which had the responsibility of moving classified and top secret material
around Vietnam. He was stationed at Tan Son Nhut Airbase in Saigon,
Vietnam. He left Vietnam a few weeks before the fall of Saigon.
He broke down and transferred all of the classified material and data back
to the United States. Ken left Vietnam just before the fall of Saigon.
He is credited for breaking down the station he was assigned and moving all
of the sensitive material back to the United States.
Ken continued his work with the Courier
Service for the US Army making trips around Europe moving material
to and from SHAPE, NATO,
and US military bases throughout Europe. Ken really enjoyed his time
in Belgium. He made many very close friends including Belgians.
His youngest brother came to live with him, and his other brother was
stationed in London, England, at the US Embassy as a Marine guard. Ken
virtually brought his family with him to Europe. He got married while
stationed in Belgium, and had his first son while still there. Even
his mother would eventually travel to Europe and visit. During this
time Ken transitioned his military career to the intelligence field working
with and within the US Embassy.
Ken went to Iran in a time of great turmoil and strife in
Iran. It was basically a war zone. The result of a revolution of
Islamic extremist who still have control of the country until this very day.
It was a time that Iran had deposed the Shaw of Iran in a revolution and
installed the religious zealots.
In this time of great strife Ken had his second son who
was born in Iran.
While working in the embassy in Tehran Ken was caught in
street marches, and actually came under fire again in Iran. He helped
countless Iranian citizens leave Tehran, and helped secure the US Embassy
shortly before he left the country. Weeks later the US embassy was
overtaken by radicals, and the United States of America and Iran would never
be the same. The USA because we started to live with, or live through,
terrorist strikes funded by governments, and Iran because they chose a path
of violence and terrorist funding lead by Islamic extremist. This has
changed the world. Not only why Iran chose terrorism, but how Iran
chose to fund terrorism throughout the world. A funding and a fight
that continue to this day.
United States hostages were taken in the embassy compound by Islamic
Extremist a matter of weeks after Ken left Iran. The hostages included
his friends, work mates, boss, and people he trained to take over his
position. Ken was in Iran during the first overtaking, however, he was
in his apartment at the time. He left Iran as mentioned weeks before
the hostages were captured
Ken moved to Ireland and started working at the United
States embassy in Dublin. It was nice to be out of a war zone and back
in a peaceful country. Ken's immediate boss was Lt. Col. Bournes.
Ken worked as a Chief
Warrant Officer while in Ireland. Ken worried constantly about
the other US personnel and his friends who were held hostage in Iran.
He received advancement while in Ireland. Ken's little brother came to
live with him and his new family again while he was in Ireland. The
hostages were released while Ken was in Ireland and they even landed in
Shannon air base where Ken was able to meet them. Ken had friends in
the Marine Corp while in Ireland. One of them who also had transferred
from Iran. They had come under fire together in Iran. Ireland
was a good work location for Ken and provided some relief after surviving
Ken spent a tour in Cameroon, Africa with his family.
He worked in the US Embassy there. For the first time in Ken's career
he seemed to wear down on this campaign. He started talking a lot more
about retiring and doing something outside and after embassy service and the
military. He talked about living in America. He started saying
how he missed living in America, and wanted to come home. He did enjoy
traveling and seeing the culture of Africa. He seemed to have lost the
zeal for the assignments. He was getting ready to come home.
Ken went to work at the US embassy in China and brought
his family with him. He said he was doing work with the China
government as it related to the recovery of MIA
(missing in action) from Vietnam. Work was good, but Ken had
encountered problems that were not related to his assignment or profession.
As a result of these problems Ken had to leave China before his assignment
date was up. It was what he called "a black mark" on
an otherwise sterling record. He felt he had let the embassy down.
He went to Washington to debrief, and spent the rest of his time between
assignments back home in Grand Rapids, Michigan at his mothers house where
The US Army had a great solution for recovering from a
perceived "black mark", and a way to make up for leaving a post
early. Another tour in a verifiable HOT SPOT. There was a new
embassy annex that was being established in Christian East Beirut. Ken
could not overlook the fact that he was the perfect person for that sort of
task with the military. It was obvious that his entire military career
had put him in a perfect position to master the task that were asked of him.
He talked about this being his last hot spot and his career would then get
to less stressful assignments. He did not make it.
Ken went to Beirut alone. Ken was only in Beirut for
four months. He spent two months at the US embassy before transferring
to the new embassy annex. Ken mentioned how beautiful Beirut was by
the sea. He had not felt that positive about this assignment, but he
reminded all of us that he had survived hot spots before, and he expected to
be home from this tour. What we know now is that the government of
Iran had been pouring money and resources into terrorist organizations such
as Hezbollah, and they had a plan. They wanted to bomb another US
target and kill more Americans.
Hezbollah with the backing and support of the Iranian
government bombed the US embassy annex in Lebanon on September 20,
1984 at around noon. That act ended a great military career, and
killed a wonderful person.