BALTIMORE – A steady stream of visitors filed by the casket of Staff Sgt. Kendall D. Waters-Bey on Thursday, including many who did not know the young Marine but came to pay their respects to “a fallen hero.”
“When any of those soldiers go over there to fight I want them to know people care for them,” said Myrna Lane, a Baltimore resident.
She did not know Waters-Bey, but said she came after seeing the pain in his father’s face on television interviews, so he would know she appreciated his son’s sacrifice.
Waters-Bey, 29, was one of the first American casualties of the Iraqi war. He was on a helicopter that crashed in the opening hours of the war on March 20, killing four Americans and eight British soldiers. The crash has been attributed to mechanical problems.
Friends, family and well wishers came for a visitation at a Baltimore funeral home Thursday, some wearing hats, buttons and bags covered in red, white and blue. Some brought cards or hugged the only family member who was present, Waters-Bey’s grandmother.
Most of the family attended a private earlier viewing, funeral home workers said, and the grandmother declined comment Thursday.
Friends who grew up with Waters-Bey and his family in Northeast Baltimore were noticeably shaken as they viewed the closed casket, covered in an American flag and surrounded by flowers.
“It’s not easy,” said Tammy Lomax-Bey, a who knew Waters-Bey as “Kenny” when they were growing up. “My best friend, gone, but I’m proud of him.”
She remembered how Waters-Bey would tell everyone in the neighborhood he was going to be somebody when he was older, and how he always demanded to be in charge of everything. That goal, and a desire to provide for his son, led Waters-Bey to the Marines, she said.
“He said to me, `Peanut . . . I’ve got to make something of myself, I’ve got to provide for my son,'” Lomax-Bey said.
Another neighbor remembers Waters-Bey as a genuinely “nice guy” who was always ready with a kind word or smile for anyone in the neighborhood.
“He was always kind to each person,” said Dwayne Nesbit. “He was a loving person in the community.”
Gov. Robert Ehrlich is scheduled to attend Waters-Bey’s funeral Friday at 11a.m. at St. Matthew’s Catholic Church in Baltimore. Waters-Bey is survived by his wife, a 10-year old son, his father and four sisters.