Fallen Carson soldier was due home this month

LANCE BENZEL Updated: April 30, 2010 at 12:00 am • Published: April 30, 2010

A Fort Carson soldier with less than a month remaining in a yearlong tour in Afghanistan was shot to death Tuesday while on a patrol, family members said.

Sgt. Nathan P. Kennedy, 24, of Claysville, Pa., was reportedly the only person wounded in the attack. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

“He was just a typical American boy,” said his grandmother, Mary Lou Kennedy, also of Claysville. Family members said he was set to return to Colorado on May 25.

Kennedy was a 2004 graduate of McGuffey High School in Claysville, where he was a standout on the wrestling team.

He joined the Army after attending one semester of college and deciding it wasn’t for him, Mary Lou Kennedy said.

Family members said he flourished in the service, earning a coveted Ranger tab and completing the Army’s sniper school. He is a two-time recipient of both the Army Commendation Medal and the Army Achievement Medal. Kennedy re-enlisted in November with the goal of joining the Special Forces.

Despite his accomplishments, Kennedy kept the war stories to himself, changing the subject when anyone asked about Afghanistan or his previous 14-month tour in Iraq, from 2006 to 2007.

“He was just doing what he thought was right for the country,” said his father, Joe Kennedy of Claysville.

He is also survived by two sisters and a brother. His mother, Penelope Kennedy, died in 2001.

The family last saw Kennedy in February. He passed up the chance to take leave from Afghanistan over Christmas so that he could be home for the birth of his twin sister’s first child in Pennsylvania, his grandmother said.

Mary Lou Kennedy said her grandson was a prankster who used to disguise his voice when he called from Afghanistan, sometimes posing as a salesman. She never let on that her caller ID always gave him away.

“That’s the kind of kid that he was – happy-go-lucky,” she said.

This was the second report of a Fort Carson death in Afghanistan in two days.

Sgt. Grant A. Wichmann, 27, of Golden, died Saturday at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C. after a March 12 gunfire attack at Outpost Bari Alai, Afghanistan.

The 3,500-soldier 4th Brigade Combat Team began returning this week and should be back on post by mid-June, Fort Carson said. The brigade has accounted for 45 of the 49 Fort Carson deaths in Afghanistan so far. Two hundred and fifty six soldiers have died in Iraq.

Call the writer at 636-0366.

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