Family of Marine who fell early on still asking why

In Maryland

September 08, 2004|By Reginald Fields | Reginald Fields,SUN STAFF

Michael Waters-Bey On the second day of the Iraqi war, Michael Waters-Bey lost his only son and Kenneth Waters-Bey, just a boy, lost the father he was just getting to know, but had already lauded as a role model.

Marine Staff Sgt. Kendall D. Waters-Bey of Northeast Baltimore - son of Michael and father of Kenneth - was among the war's earliest American casualties. He was killed March 20, 2003, when the helicopter he was riding in crashed and burned near Umm Qasr, an Iraqi town near the Kuwait border.

The next day, Michael Waters-Bey unleashed a scathing critique of the American decision to go to war in Iraq, even claiming he was owed apologies for his son's death from both President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H, Rumsfeld. And, still today, he hasn't let up.

Nearly 18 months later and after yesterday's combat claimed the life of the 1,000th American soldier - both much graver statistics than anticipated from this war when it began - Michael Waters-Bey remains frustrated and unrelenting in his criticism of this conflict.

"My son didn't die for a noble cause, because if he died for a noble cause they would be out of there by now," Waters-Bey said yesterday from his Woodbourne Avenue home. "The only way this would have been a noble cause is if they found the weapons of mass destruction. But they didn't."

A bit thinner, with a few more gray hairs in his close-cropped hairdo than a year ago, 49- year-old Waters-Bey believes the United States has no diplomatic plan for leaving Iraq because it had no legitimate reason for attacking the country. For that reason, he says he isn't surprised so many service members have now been killed.

"So we have no weapons of mass destruction, the Iraqi interim government already took over three months ago and Saddam is about to go on trial and we still have soldiers over there being killed," Waters-Bey said. "How does that make sense? There shouldn't have been this many more after my son."

Staff Sgt. Kendall Waters-Bey grew up near Herring Run Park and attended Northern and Harbor City high schools. He joined the Marines soon after high school, while his soon-to-be first wife was pregnant with Kenneth.

Just before being called to serve in the war, Waters-Bey was living at Camp Pendleton in San Diego with his third wife. His son, Kenneth, who lived in Baltimore and only saw his father when the soldier came home for visits, had moved to California to live with Waters-Bey three months earlier. Kenneth's parents had agreed it was time for the boy to get to know his father better.

But in February 2003 Waters-Bey was told that within weeks he would be sent to Iraq. Kenneth was sent back to Baltimore to live with his mother but had enough time with his father to grow fond of him.

Just days after arriving in Iraq, Waters-Bey was the crew chief on a CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter - a Vietnam War-era aircraft with a recent history of mechanical failures. The helicopter crashed, apparently the result of an accident and not enemy fire. All 12 servicemen - eight British commandos and four U.S. soldiers - died. Waters-Bey was 29.

He was also survived by his mother and four sisters.

"I miss playing with him, going places, playing video games, just laughing and playing around," said Kenneth, now 12, a seventh-grader at Purpose and Potential Christian Arts Academy in Northeast Baltimore.

Kenneth said he was depressed for many months after his father died. He daydreamed about when he would be going back to California to live with the staff sergeant or when his father would again visit Baltimore.

"Then I would remember he's not coming back," said Kenneth, who lives with his mother and grandmother on Burnwood Road.

Kenneth has been in counseling and for a long time would refuse to go places because everywhere he went, someone would talk about his father.

"People would say it was OK to cry," he said.

And he did, a lot.

"But I thought about it," he said. "All of the crying and stuff isn't going to bring him back, so I just decided to get over it."

Kenneth said he has decided to be his best in whatever he does for his father.

"I try to do good anyway, but now I try to do good, good for him," he said. "Like, I'm not messing up in school because that would make him proud."

Marylanders killed during the war in Iraq

Kendall D. Waters-Bey, 29

Baltimore

Staff Sergeant

Marines

March 20, 2003

George A Mitchell, 35

Rawlings

Specialist

Army

April 7, 2003

Jason D. Mileo, 20

Centreville

Corporal

Marines

April 14, 2003

Kylan A Jones-Huffman, 31

College Park

Lieutenant

Naval Reserve

April 21, 2003

Cornell W. Gilmor, 45

Baltimore

Sergeant major

Army

Nov. 7, 2003

Jeffrey C. Walker, 33

Havre de Grace

Sergeant

Army

Jan. 8, 2003

Adam G. Mooney, 28

Cambridge

First Lieutenant

Army

Jan. 25, 2004

Bryan N. Spry, 19

Chestertown

Private

Army

Feb. 13, 2004

Jason C. Ford, 21

Bowie

Specialist

Army

March 13, 2004

Brandon L. Davis, 20

Cumberland

Lance Corporal

Marines

June 29, 2004

Patrick Ryan Adle, 21

Bel Air

Lance Corporal

Marines

June 29, 2004

Raymond J. Faulstich, 24

Leonardtown

Private first class

Army

Aug. 5, 2004

Rick A Ulbright, 49

Waldorf

Civilian employee

Air Force

Aug. 8, 2004

SOURCES: SUN LIBRARY RESEARCH, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, JEAN PACKARD : SUN LIBRARIAN/RESEARCHER : SUN STAFF

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