Sgt. Keith A. Bennett, 32, guardsman

December 18, 2005|By JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV | JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV,SUN REPORTER

Staff Sgt. Keith A. Bennett of Holtwood, Pa., died Dec. 11 in Ramadi, Iraq, when a bomb exploded while he was standing guard at a checkpoint. He was 32.

Sergeant Bennett was born in Havre de Grace and moved to Pennsylvania in 1986. He graduated from Solanco High School in Quarryville, Pa., in 1991 and graduated from York Technical Institute in 2001. He joined the Pennsylvania National Guard in 1997.

He joined the National Guard to prepare himself for a future job as a state policeman, said his mother, Carolyn Miller of Holtwood. "With this experience, it would help him along," she said.

During his time with the National Guard, Sergeant Bennett traveled to Saudi Arabia, where he worked as a military escort from August 2002 to May 2003.

Sergeant Bennett was working as a military policeman at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., when he volunteered to go to Iraq, Mrs. Miller said.

In Iraq, Sergeant Bennett served with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division, and was in the middle of a yearlong deployment.

According to the military, Sergeant Bennett was killed when a driver detonated a bomb in a truck stopped for inspection outside of a compound Marines used to train Iraqi police officers.

Two months ago, Sergeant Bennett surprised family members when he came home for a 15-day leave.

"He came to my [place of] employment, and we talked for a while," said his sister, Tina Daley of Willow Street, Pa. "He liked to do that. Unfortunately, that was the last time we got to see him."

Before joining the National Guard, Sergeant Bennett worked as a steel erector for Steel Systems Installation and then for Cavell & Rick in Brownstown, Pa.

He also spent three years as a draftsman and designer for LSA Inc. in Lancaster, Pa.

Sergeant Bennett enjoyed listening to music. He had downloaded about 3,000 songs onto his laptop computer, his mother said.

"He bought DJ equipment and planned on becoming a DJ on the weekends and in his spare time when he came back," Mrs. Miller said.

He liked driving his red Kawasaki motorcycle and 2003 black Mustang Cobra. He also enjoyed hanging out with friends and eating pizza.

"He loved pizza," Mrs. Miller said. "He could eat a whole large pizza by himself."

A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Chestnut Level Presbyterian Church in Quarryville, Pa.

In addition to his mother and sister, Sergeant Bennett is survived by his father, Harry E. Bennett of Aberdeen; and his stepfather, Thomas Miller of Holtwood.

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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