Randallstown High graduate dies in Iraq

October 23, 2005|By BRADLEY OLSON | BRADLEY OLSON,SUN REPORTER

Three weeks ago, Spc. Kendall K. Frederick was with his mother and siblings in Randallstown, laughing and playing with his 3-year-old brother, Kwesi.

He had come home from wrenching experiences in Iraq, including killing someone for the first time and enduring the death of comrades. Although he was scared, family members and a former mentor said, he decided to return to Iraq because he loved the Army and believed in doing his duty.

Specialist Frederick was killed Wednesday outside of Tikrit when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle. He was driving the vehicle, which was last in a convoy, an Army reserve spokesman said. Specialist Frederick, 21, was the fifth service member with ties to Maryland to die in Iraq this month and the 35th overall. As of yesterday, 1,996 U.S. service members have died since the war began, according to the Associated Press.

FOR THE RECORD - Because of incorrect information supplied by the Department of Defense, the name of Kendell K. Frederick, an Army reserve specialist from Randallstown killed in Iraq on Oct. 19, was misspelled in an Oct. 23 article in the Maryland section.

Born in Trinidad, Specialist Frederick graduated from Randallstown High School in 2004 and moved to Michigan for a job as a mechanic. He enlisted with the Army Reserve's 983rd Engineer Battalion out of Monclova, Ohio, serving as a power generator equipment mechanic, his mother, Michelle Murphy, said.

While he was home on leave three weeks ago, Specialist Frederick spent time with old friends and visited cadets at Randallstown's Junior Navy ROTC program, where had been a platoon commander.

Stephan J. Strzemienski, a retired Navy commander who led the program, said he spoke to Frederick at length about the soldier's time in Iraq.

"He was telling me about his experiences over there and that it had been hard for him," Mr. Strzemienski said. "He never really knew from day to day what was going to happen, how you have to be really careful over there and that you never know one minute to the next with these car bombs. He had seen several of his friends get killed, and he had to shoot someone, and he was upset about that."

Mr. Strzemienski said Specialist Frederick was a quiet and disciplined student who looked forward to joining the Army after graduating. But after 10 months in Iraq, he had lost some of his excitement.

"He wasn't that excited about going back, but we just basically agreed that it was his duty and that it had to be done," Mr. Strzemienski said. "There was no fun in it for him. He wanted to come home. He almost made it, I guess."

Mr. Strzemienski said Specialist Frederick was the first cadet he mentored who had been killed in combat. About one in 10 joins the military, he said.

Ms. Murphy said her son's death has been especially hard because he had just come to visit.

"He was so happy to be home." she said. "We laughed a lot and had a great time. He visited all his friends, and he was hoping to be back for the holidays. He came home for a reason -- to tell us he loved us."

Specialist Frederick, her eldest son, bonded a great deal with Kwesi, a little brother he scarcely knew before the visit, Ms. Murphy said. When Specialist Frederick would leave the house, Kwesi would cry and ask for him, she said. He also spoiled his two sisters, Kennisha, 15, and Kendra, 11.

"He would spoil them rotten," she said. "When they couldn't get anything from me, they would just call their big brother, and he would give it to them. ... He was a wonderful son, just a joy to be around for everyone who met him, even for the first time."

Funeral plans will be announced.

Besides his mother and siblings, Specialist Frederick is survived by his stepfather, Kenmore Murphy, and his father, Peter Ramsahai of Trinidad.

bradley.olson@baltsun.com

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