Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Joseph P. Kenny dies 'of injuries suffered from a non-combat related incident'

A 20-year-old U.S. Army soldier from Veneta died over the weekend in Iraq from injuries he sustained in a non-combat-related incident, the military reported Monday.

Department of Defense officials said Spc. Joseph P. Kenny, who attended Elmira High School near Eugene, died Saturday in Mosul. He was assigned to the 27th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, based in Fort Bliss, Texas.

Defense officials at Fort Bliss declined to give any details about Kenny's death, saying it is under investigation. Kenny's death is the 102nd military casualty with ties to Oregon and Southwest Washington in the wars launched after Sept. 11, 2001.

School officials were stunned at news of Kenny's death, describing him as a "jokester" who found a place for himself in the Army.

"He was one of those students you fell in love with because he was active in class and he was a very respectful young man," said Jon Guldager, a social studies teacher at Elmira High.

Principal Karen McKenzie burst into tears when she heard about Kenny's death. On a visit in February, Kenny stopped by his old school to see the administrator.

"He came right up to me and gave me a hug," McKenzie recalled. "He was very excited about being in the military."

Kenny's mother, Linda Smith of Veneta, could not be reached for comment.

From the Oregonian