WASHINGTON – A deadly week for Maryland troops serving in Iraq got worse Friday when the Defense Department announced the death of a Randallstown soldier killed by a roadside bomb.
Army Spc. Kendall K. Frederick, 21, was working on a convoy Oct. 19 near Tikrit when an improvised explosive device was set off near his vehicle. He was with the Army Reserve’s 983rd Engineer Battalion based in Monclova, Ohio, where he was a power generator mechanic.
Frederick was the fifth Maryland war fatality in five days. On Oct. 14 three members of the Maryland National Guard died in a convoy accident in Al Taji, making them the first state guardsmen killed in overseas duty since World War II. And the same day Frederick died, a 21-year-old Parkton Marine was killed by a suicide car bomber in Karabilah.
The Iraq death toll for Maryland stands to be at least 31, excluding those with roots in Maryland but who live elsewhere and civilian contractors.
Raised in Trinidad until he was 15, Frederick graduated from Randallstown High School in 2003, completing four years in the Navy Junior ROTC program where he moved up the ranks to chief petty officer.
“Once he got a taste, he loved it,” said his mother, Michelle Murphy, 40. “He loved being in charge.”
While on leave earlier this month, Murphy said she noticed her son drawing sketches and immersing himself in rap music. He composed songs with an electric keyboard connected to his laptop computer.
He also spent his leave time courting a former classmate at Randallstown, his mother said.
“When he left, I considered him to be a baby. When he came back, he had matured into this wonderful man who I was fascinated with,” Murphy said.
Frederick’s ROTC mentor, Stephan Strzemienski, a retired Navy commander, remembered him as a dedicated student who was constantly absorbing military culture.
“He saw an opportunity to further his education and do something that sounded exciting,” Strzemienski said.
Strzemienski was one of the people Frederick visited while on leave. They spoke at length about the young soldier’s experiences, and Frederick told Strzemienski that he was shaken from his first kill and from the day-to-day peril of troop life in Iraq.
But Frederick kept on, knowing his tour would be over in March. He had looked forward to vacationing in Trinidad once he got back.
“He said, ‘This is what I have to do. I will be back in six months and will have done my duty,'” Strzemienski said. “I told him, ‘In my judgment, you can talk about heroes in the abstract, but I’m looking at one right now.'”
They shook hands, neither one knowing it would be their last meeting.
Sheila Reed is an assistant principal at Randallstown whose son, Anthony, 20, was a close friend of Frederick. She remembers the young soldier as respectful and soft-spoken, the kind of person she would want to bring back to the school to inspire future ROTC students.
“It’s just unfortunate. It really hits home when it’s a child you know well and have bonded with,” Reed said.
Frederick is survived by the Murphys, which include his mother; sisters Kennisha and Kendra; brother, Kwesi; and stepfather, Kenmore, all of Randallstown. He is also survived by his grandfather, Kenneth Rogers; and father, Peter Ramsahai, both of Trinidad. – 30 – CNS-10-25-05