Marine Sgt. Kenneth B. May Jr.
Died May 11, 2010 serving during Operation Enduring Freedom
26, of Kilgore, Texas; assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died May 11 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Also killed was Marine Cpl. Jeffrey W. Johnson.
(The following was taken from www.kilgorenews.com of May 15, 2010) American flags streamed a somber tribute Friday in the home neighborhood of U.S. Marine Sgt. Kenneth May Jr.
The 2002 Kilgore High School graduate was killed Tuesday while on foot patrol in Afghanistan in Operation Enduring Freedom.
May, 26, had served two tours in Iraq and was deployed just two weeks ago to Afghanistan, where he was killed by an IED on May 11, the day after his second wedding anniversary.
May was assigned to the Third Battalion, first Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force in Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Also killed in the explosion was Marine Cpl. Jeffrey W. Johnson.
May’s parents, Kenneth Sr. and Karen have tender memories of their last connections with their son.
He was just home for a week in April before re-deploying.
“He wasn’t too worried about those ones, but he was worried about this one. He knew it was a hotspot,” his dad recalled.
Condolences have come in from near and far for the fallen Marine. The Rotary Club put flags up in the neighborhood, and U.S. Sen. John McCain called from his personal cell phone to express his condolences to the Mays and assure them of his support.
Known to his friends and family as Kenny, Kenneth May Jr. was a brilliant student with many academic options who wanted to serve his country and put himself through school.
“He could have done anything in the Marine Corps – he tested off the charts, but he chose to be an infantryman,” his dad said.
May left Kilgore College to enlist just a few credits short of a diploma.
(Kenneth Sr. said he will ask Kilgore College President Bill Holda to issue Kenny an honorary diploma.)
He loved the Latin language, and on his forearms, May had Latin tattoos – “Strength and justice” on one, “Honor and truth” on the other. (“That’s kind of like Kenny, summed up in four words,” Karen May said.)
He deeply felt his status as a “junior,” writing about Kenneth May Sr. on his myspace site.
“We are so much alike in appearance and behavior that sometimes I jokingly refer to myself as Ken 2.0. I like to tell him that I've got none of his flaws and all of his strengths, but really, it's more the other way around,” the younger May wrote.
His myspace site included another favorite Latin quote, “Via ad pax pavimentatum cum sanguis,” - the road to peace is paved with blood.
He wrote there about his reconciliation to his difficult job as a Marine.
“The Warrior, the way I have made the word to mean in my own mind, is one of the elite caste of mankind who do something that no other profession does... they seek to make their jobs disappear. The Warrior is one who desires nothing more than to lay down his sword (or rifle, whatever) and never do harm again. The Warrior, whose sole reason for existence is War, is the seeker of Peace,” May wrote.
He married his high school sweetheart, Krystal Barton, two years ago.
“He called her his soulmate. Krystal was the love of his life – he was lucky he found her,” his mother said, recalling her son as patriotic from childhood and possessing an intense personal faith.
“He loved his wife, he loved us, he loved God more than anything,” Karen May said. “He wanted to be known as a Christian man first.”
He had a tattoo on his back that showed an open casket, and with his own date of birth and a Marine buddy’s date of death. Asked what it meant, he said, “Death can’t hold me – I’m saved.”
The Mays don’t sorrow as those who have no hope. The elder May’s voice broke as he shared a statement of faith about his son.
“God gave him to us, and He missed him so much, He took him back early.”
In fact, it was Kenny who reminded them of all he had learned from them as a child when he called his mother Sunday for Mothers Day.
As a result, Karen May will always remember 1 Cor. 15:55.
“Mom, don’t worry about me. You need to study up on your Corinthians, Mom,” he told her, reciting the verse: “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?“
“That was one of the last things he said to me,” she said.
And now she is a member of the saddest sorority of all.
A neighbor made a banner for the window portraying her status as a U.S. military Gold Star mother – one who has lost a son in the line of duty.
Wearing red to support the troops instead of the black of mourning at a Friday interview, Kenneth May Sr. would ask just one thing of the community – continued recognition and prayers for the servicemen and servicewomen in harm’s way.
“For some reason, we’ve lost sight of our men and women in uniform who are out supporting their families,” he said.
“Red shirt Fridays around here doesn’t mean anything but Kilgore football, and I understand that, but I’d like to see a little more of that,” he said.
U.S. Marine Sgt. Kenneth B. May Jr. will be accompanied home to his final resting place by the Patriot Guard and a Marine escort, which will include the Marine who was the best man at his wedding.
Services are pending, with Rader Funeral Home of Kilgore in charge of arrangements.
A memorial fund has been established at Austin Bank, and proceeds after funeral expenses will be donated to charity in Kenny’s honor.
He leaves behind his wife, Krystal (Barton) May, his parents, Kenneth and Karen May and sister Kalynne May, all of Kilgore, and his in-laws Pastor Glenn and Wilma Barton, also of the Kilgore area.