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Monday, 10-Oct-2005 00:00 Email | Share | Bookmark

LCpl Patrick Kenny
Marine who inspired sister to enlist dies
Saturday, October 08, 2005

By Milan Simonich, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Lance Cpl. Patrick Kenny looked and acted like he belonged on a Marine Corps recruiting poster. So able and enthusiastic was Cpl. Kenny that he inspired his younger sister, Katy, to follow his example and join the Marines.

Katy Kenny, back home in Emsworth after completing 13 weeks of boot camp, learned yesterday that her hero was dead -- killed in a roadside bombing in Iraq.

Cpl. Kenny, 20, and three other Marines died Thursday when the explosion tore through their Humvee in Karmah, about 40 miles west of Baghdad.

Three Marines in green uniforms banged on the Kenny family's front door at 1:23 a.m. yesterday to break the news. Chuck Kenny said he knew as soon as he opened the door that his only son was dead.

"Now the family name won't go on. That's it," Chuck Kenny said yesterday afternoon between hugs with friends and family members who streamed into his home.

Katy Kenny, 19, had spent the week in Pittsburgh-area high schools, recruiting young women for the Marine Corps. But yesterday, she said, all she could think about was being brave for her father and her mother, Tricia. Cpl. Kenny would have expected that of her.

"I looked up to my brother," said Ms. Kenny, who became a Marine private after completing boot camp in Parris Island, S.C., on Sept. 23. "In high school, I became the water girl for the football team because he was a football player."

Cpl. Kenny started at tackle for three years at Avonworth High School, where flags flew at half staff yesterday in his honor. The team captain as a senior, he made a lasting impression by showing interest in players nobody else seemed to notice

Tyler Frew, a freshman when Cpl. Kenny was a senior, said he broke down and cried behind the bleachers after his first grueling practice. In a two-page letter delivered yesterday to the Kenny family, Tyler remembered how Cpl. Kenny sought him out and reassured him, telling him the practice had not been so bad and that he could make it if he tried.

Tyler said he never forgot those words of encouragement, or the fact that the bruising 230-pound senior tackle had cared enough to worry about the feelings of a timid freshman.

"I'm a better person for meeting him," Tyler, now a senior wide receiver and the Avonworth team captain, said in an interview.

Avonworth football coach Jason Kekseo said Cpl. Kenny had the talent to play Division II or III college football but never seriously considered the idea.

"He was a tough kid, very strong, and he had a good work ethic," Coach Kekseo said. "But he was so committed to joining the military that I don't think he ever really thought about college."

Cpl. Kenny graduated from Avonworth High in 2003 but missed the commencement ceremony. School administrators handed him his diploma a few days early so he could leave for Marine boot camp as soon as he finished his last class. He was that gung-ho about becoming an infantryman in wartime.

Katy Kenny said her brother had a lifelong interest in military service. He read about the Civil War with a scholar's passion and loved GI Joe action figures. He became so obsessive about the military that he even wore GI Joe briefs, relatives said.

Cpl. Kenny was in his second tour in Iraq. The first brought him to the city of Fallujah, not far from the spot where he died. Though he worked in war zones where bombings and death are common, Cpl. Kenny told his family not to worry about him.

"He always told my mom he would come home and find a wife, and they would give her pretty grandchildren," Katy Kenny said. "That's all he really wanted."

Cpl. Kenny's body was still in Iraq yesterday, so funeral arrangements had not been made. In addition to his parents and Katy, he is survived by two other sisters, Molly, 21, and Maggie, 23.

Chuck Kenny said he supported both his son and daughter when they decided to join the Marines. But now, he said, he must insist that Katy serve her country some place besides a war zone.

"I told her she ain't goin' to Iraq," Mr. Kenny said.

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