Fallen Hero

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Kenneth Booker was voted as the “Most Bashful” by his classmates at Switzerland County High School when they handed out senior superlatives for the Class of 2000.

He is remembered as a shy young man who was nice to everyone, and classmates have fond memories of him.

Kenneth Booker graduated and joined the U.S. Army in order to serve his country – and last Thursday while serving his third tour of duty in Iraq, Kenneth Booker gave the ultimate sacrifice.

He became the first Switzerland County resident to die in the war in Iraq.

The government confirmed that Kenneth Booker, a Sergeant in the Army, was killed as a result of a roadside bombing while on patrol.

Charles Booker, Kenneth Booker’s father, said that the family was told that his son’s vehicle was struck by a new form of explosive device while it was on patrol.

Kenneth Booker was the commander of the vehicle, which is a Stryker eight-wheel-drive truck; which the government began using in Iraq in March of this year because it believed that the vehicle’s design and speed would make it less vulnerable to roadside bombs.

Arrangements are still pending here in Switzerland County, as the family awaits release of Sergeant Booker’s body so that it can be returned to Vevay.

Haskell and Morrison will be in charge of arrangements once he is returned here, and he expected to be buried in the Slawson Cemetery near Bennington.

As news of Kenneth Booker’s death spread throughout the Switzerland County community, many classmates chose to express their feelings through emails.

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Kenneth Booker was one of only a handful of friends that I could say were consistently there for me during my high school experience in Vevay.

We both took similar paths outside of school (He joined the Army, I joined the Air Force), so we were able to talk about our lives since they were so similar.

Since my term ended and I became a musician, we kept in touch while he was overseas and when he was home via email and myspace.

Today, I morn for his family and for the Armed Services. They have both lost a good man and a good soldier. I morn because I lost a friend.

– Jacob Deaton, Class of 2000

living in Atlanta, Georgia

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I just wanted to write to say that I was deeply saddened by the news of Kenneth’s passing, but yet so proud that Kenneth was over there fighting for my freedom.

He will never know how much I appreciate what he and his family sacrificed. I remember Kenneth as a very quiet and polite individual. I remember him at different FFA meetings; he never said much but was there to help and has a very distinct sincere smile.

May Kenneth rest in peace with the rest of our fallen soldiers and know that we do realize that he paid the ultimate price so that could live in this great country.

– Natasha L. (Duke) Cox,

Class of 2000

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Teachers at the high school also remember Kenneth Booker as a quiet, polite young man who worked hard in the classroom and on projects that he was interested in.

“He was a truly wonderful young man,” English teacher Janet Hendricks said. “He was very polite and never caused any problems. He and my son, Christopher, were friends, and I just remember him as someone who was very quiet and well mannered.”

“I had the pleasure of seeing Kenneth after he graduated and was home on leave from the Army,” agriculture teacher Greg Curlin said. “In school, he was very quiet, but he was also very involved in the FFA chapter and worked to help with all of the projects that we had.”

After leaving high school, Greg Curlin remembers another side of the county hero.

“I remember that when Kenneth would come home on leave he would come back to the school to say hello,” Greg Curlin remembers. “He was very proud of his uniform, and he was very proud of the job that he was doing and how he was helping people. He was proud of his military service, and we are proud of him.”

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Kenneth Booker’s mother, Becky Graham of Milton, Kentucky, said her son had a clever sense of humor, liked to have fun and to go hunting.

“He was a funny person,” she said. “He had a really great sense of humor. He liked to joke around, he liked to hunt, was goodhearted, kind. He was quiet. He was just a wonderful person.”

Kenneth Booker was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Washington.

The Army transferred him to Fort Lewis and into military intelligence, but he didn’t like it because he spent most of his time at a desk, his mother said.

She said that he asked for a transfer back to infantry, and joined a Stryker Brigade Combat Unit at Fort Lewis knowing it was headed for Iraq.

Kenneth Booker was sent to Iraq about six months ago and had recently been home for an 18-day leave. He left to return to Iraq on September 12th.