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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.


Brussels, Belgium

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.


Tehran, Iran

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.

The 52 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


Dublin, Ireland

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 Iran. 


Cameroon, Africa

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.


Beijing, China

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 he lived.


Beirut, Lebanon

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.




                                                           Web Administrator Gerard A. Welch