Clayton Jack Kennedy 98---11 years gone today

7,737 Views | 12 Replies | Last: 1 mo ago by OldArmyCT
Ol Jock 99
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Clay's cousin, transferag05, reminded us about Clay today on AO.

A little background on Clay.

Clay looked the part of a model Aggie cadet and a USMC Officer. Around 6'3", in great shape...you know the drill. Great smile that could put anyone at ease (and didn't hurt with the ladies).

I first got to know Clay during my head year (his junior year). We are in an audit course call Perspective: The Worldwide Christian Movement. Clay was a man of faith, and was committed to learning more even though he had a crazy schedule in the Corps and normal school.

His senior year, Clay was the Combined Band Staff Commander (one of the top 6 jobs in the Corps). He was a Ross Volunteer, and selected as one of the 8 senior "red-sash" leaders of the Company. He had the distinguished pleasure of helping a certain young tall uncoordinated TexAgs poster (who shall remain nameless ) learn how to drill....and never lost patience.

He and group of buddies, who weren't military scholarship cadets, decided during their senior years that they needed to serve their country to a great degree and went through the Marine Corps Platoon Leaders Course and commissioned as USMC officers after graduating.

Clay was an infantry commander, a Marine's marine. On April 8, 2000, he had his platoon on a test flight of an Osprey aircraft in Arizona. It crashed. 19 dead. No survivors.

Clay left a wife of ~ 1 year, a sister, a brother (who was a young E-1 Jock at the time), his parents, tons of family, and a huge network of friends and admirers.

Semper Fi...and here.
CGSC Lobotomy
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IIRC, he was interning for former President Bush (Sr.) as well.
jagvocate
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A great Aggie!
Ulysses90
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Adam Tatro was born in Hobbs, NM on April 13, 1982. His father was a roughneck in the eastern New Mexico oil patch but disappeared when Adam was only two years old. His mother would not have won any prizes for nurturing her children and left Adam, his older half sister Sarah (not her real name), and a younger sister with an aunt in Dell City, TX so that she could pursue her own interests (which did not include rearing children). Their aunt was bitter about being left to raise them and she was emotionally detached from them. Life was tough for Adam and his sisters and they had only each other’s love to sustain them in a world that must have seemed cold and indifferent to their existence. I later learned that by the age of five Sarah was mostly responsible for the preparation of meals for her younger siblings and cleaned all the dishes while standing on a milk crate in front of the kitchen sink.

As soon as Sarah graduated high school she left Dell City to make a life on her own. Adam left his aunt’s house when he was only 16 and fended for himself while he looked for a way out of poverty and to see the world beyond the arid prairie. He made his way to Abilene where he met the local Marine Corps recruiter. Though he was 17 years old and could have enlisted with a parent’s consent Adam had no one to sign for him and had to hang around town until his 18th birthday before being sworn in to active duty and departing for boot camp at MCRD San Diego.

I don’t know much about Adam’s time in the Marine Corps but after graduating boot camp and the School of Infantry he was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. It's likely that during the following eleven months Adam had some minor difficulties with his chain of command because he should have been at least a Private First Class as the first anniversary of his enlistment approached but for some reason was still a slick sleeve Private. In early April of 2000 Adam’s company was participating in nighttime training exercises simulating a noncombatant evacuation operation and being transported in new MV-22 Ospreys. Adam’s squad was riding in the second Osprey in the formation as they descended to land in the early evening of April 8. As the crew-chief from the lead aircraft watched from the rear ramp, the Osprey in which Adam’s squad was riding pitched violently forward and crashed nose first into the ground outside Marana, Arizona. Nineteen Marines including Adam were killed in the crash. There were no survivors. Adam was four days shy of his 19th birthday when he died.

The I&I in Lubbock was assigned as the casualty assistance calls officer (CACO) to notify Adam’s next of kin. As far as the Marine Corps was aware, Adam’s mother was long gone and they had no means of reaching her. Adam had designated Sarah as the beneficiary of his SGLI policy and the CACO located her at her residence in Kermit, Texas. “On behalf of the Commandant it is with deepest regret that I must inform you of the death of your brother...”

As Sarah was guided through the decisions that must be made for funeral arrangements she decided that Adam’s final resting place should be at the town cemetery a few miles outside Dell City. It was not a place of happy childhood memories but it was the only semblance of a home that he had known. Since Dell City was a lot closer to El Paso than Lubbock the Captain performing the CACO duties asked if my staff could render the funeral honors. As we talked he filled me in on the background of the tragic story. I was floored when he told me that when Sarah had called to tell her aunt that he had died in a training accident that the aunt demanded that she split the life insurance that had been left to Sarah for the years of inconvenience and expense that she had suffered by their presence in her home. I’ve never since heard of such a callous and selfish demand at the occasion of a death in the family.

As I was waiting outside the church in Dell City for the service to begin an elderly gentleman walked up and thanked me for making the trip to come 75 miles out there for the funeral. He shook his head and said that Adam had lived a hard life as a kid and it was just so sad that he scarcely escaped his unhappy childhood before dying in the crash. He said that Sarah had been as much a mother to Adam as a sister since his real mother and aunt were so uncaring. He gestured to a woman that was seated in the front row at the church and said that this woman was actually Adam’s mother though she did not seem nearly as devastated as Sarah did.

It seemed that most of the town (population of about 500) had turned out for the service. The preacher spoke and prayed. A hymn was sung. The Marines bore the body of their fallen brother from the church to the hearse and it began the journey to the cemetery. At the graveside a few more words of comfort and remembrance were spoken and the two Marines at each end of the casket raised the Flag above it as three volleys were fired by the honor guard. A Soldier from the 62d Army Band at Ft Bliss (who had volunteered to come since we had no Marine Bandsmen in the local area) played taps. After the last note of taps the flag was folded and presented to Sarah and the crowd slowly disbursed. We buried Adam on Good Friday.

Adam did not die in combat and I have no evidence that he was anything but an average Marine, though average Marines are a precious. He probably never had more than a couple of hundred dollars to his name. He was not offered any scholarships. The deepest mark he left on this world is the void left in the hearts of his two sisters. There are probably not many who remember that he died eleven years ago but I do and I remember him today and on Good Friday.



This is the only photo I ever saw of Adam. I believe that it a photo of him with his arm around his sister taken when he was on leave a few months before he died.

Matthew 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.


[This message has been edited by Ulysses90 (edited 4/8/2011 10:01p).]
Mooch98
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Clay was probably one of the best people I was exposed to in my time at A&M. I remember this day 11 years ago and how sick I felt when I heard the news. We lost a good one that day.
ABattJudd
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Clay was the Combined Band CO my fish year. I was in A-Batt, and didn't really get to know him well, but he was seen as almost an untouchable god by the class of 2001.

We were at Blessing of the Fleet when we got the news of his death. I vividly remember seeing one of my buddies from B-Co break down in tears on learning the news. That was a tough Muster for all us whitebelts that year.

Here.

Greutzmachers -- Goin' commando!
Represent830
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Represent830
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Presley OBannons Sword
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someone mentioned Clay Kennedy to me today, so I googled his name and this thread came up as one of the first results. just bumping it up in memory of a fellow Marine. semper fi.
Ol Jock 99
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rwtxag83
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Thank you for posting this. I'm not exactly sure why, but I was particularly touched by his story. He had a hard scrabble go of it in his life, no question, but I think he made the conscious choice to make the best of it. He may not have made PFC or Lance Corporal, but he was US Marine in the 5th Marine Regiment, the toughest and fightinest Marine Regiment on this planet, and I have no doubt he gave his all every day he was there. The NCOs and Officers there would have it NO other way.


I never met Clay, or Adam, or any of the other Marines that paid the ultimate sacrifice that day, But I know what it means to wear that Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, and their sacrifice will not be forgotten by me. Over the centuries, Marines have paid the heaviest of burdens in service to our nation, yet we still step forward when it is time to pick up that rifle and do what's necessary.

Semper Fidelis. Fair Winds and Following Seas. Your mission is complete. Well done thou good and faithful servants.


https://www.newson6.com/story/5e3685b72f69d76f6209b31a/sense-of-duty-determination-link-crash-victims

Greater love hath no man than this....
Bucketrunner
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I just realized I went to undergraduate school with both Dick and Celia. Absolutely top notch people. Tragic tragic tragic.
OldArmyCT
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Aviation accidents leave holes in families all too often. When they are unexplained the hole is deeper. Semper Fi.
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