North Dakota Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Kenneth W. Hendrickson

North Dakota Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Kenneth W. Hendrickson

Died January 24, 2004 serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom

41, of Bismarck, N.D.; assigned to the 957th Engineer Company, 130th Engineer Brigade, Army National Guard, Bismarck, N.D.; attached to Task Force All American; died Jan. 24 when his convoy was attacked by an improvised explosive device north of Fallujah, Iraq.
Friends, family crowd into church for slain soldier’s funeral
Associated Press

BISMARCK, N.D. — Fellow soldiers, family members and friends crowded into a church here on Monday to pay their final respects to Kenneth Hendrickson, a National Guard soldier killed in Iraq. Gov. John Hoeven, who spoke at the service, said all North Dakotans are mourning.
“Thank you, God bless you, and we will never forget his service,” Hoeven said, speaking to Hendrickson’s family. Hendrickson, 41, of Bismarck, and Keith Smette, 25, of Makoti, both staff sergeants with the North Dakota National Guard’s Bismarck-based 957th Multi-Role Bridge Company, died Jan. 24. A bomb exploded next to their vehicle on a road north of Fallujah, which is west of Baghdad in central Iraq. Hendrickson and his wife, Reane, were married just four days before he was deployed. His son, Trevor, 18, is a high school senior in Bismarck. Kenneth Hendrickson held a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Mary and was a computer technician in the Bismarck school system. Prior to that, he taught in several area schools. “He was always really smart,” said Morgan Doll, a high school friend. “He liked math and computers and was really good at that.” He also had a less serious side, Doll said.
“I have a better sense of humor because of him,” she said. “I have a wackier sense of humor than I did before. He (taught me) not to take things as seriously.” The Rev. Wes Aardahl told the crowd of about 125 people at Trinity Lutheran Church that Hendrickson initially had some reservations about being dispatched overseas, but later e-mailed from Iraq that U.S. soldiers needed to be there “to do something for the people of Iraq.” Aardahl said Hendrickson was a seeker, a questioner, and that it would honor him “by our own honesty, by our honest recognition that there is tragedy at work here on many levels.” “That there is ambiguity, uncertainty, lack of clarity at work here — one hopes that our intervention will prove to be wise and good, but we don’t know that for certain,” Aardahl said. Hendrickson was buried at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery near Mandan. The North Dakota Guard has two units deployed in Iraq: the 957th and the Fargo-based 142nd Engineer Battalion. Together, the two units have about 775 soldiers. Three North Dakota soldiers have been killed in combat in Iraq. Spc. Jon Fettig, 30, of Dickinson, died last July when attackers fired rocket-propelled grenades at a truck he was driving. Fettig was part of a Dickinson-based engineering unit but volunteered to fill a vacancy in the 957th Multi-Role Bridge Company. Kenneth Hendrickson could get a group of people to skip on their way home from a restaurant or dance in their seats during a long road trip. He was willing to try almost anything and believed in having fun, said his wife, Reane. His son, Trevor, said Hendrickson always set aside “guy time” for them and was at ease with Trevor’s high school friends. “He was really a big kid to me,” Trevor said.
Staff Sgt. Hendrickson, 41, died Jan. 24 when his convoy was hit by a roadside bomb north of Fallujah, Iraq. His Army Reserve unit was based in Bismarck, N.D. He joined the National Guard in 1989. Described by his wife as a “computer geek through and through,” Hendrickson, of Bismarck, worked as a computer technician for the local school district. His mother recalled Hendrickson’s descriptions of poverty in Iraq. “He felt he needed to be there,” Adeline Reis said. “He never complained.”
— Associated Press
Tree planted in memory of soldier killed in Iraq
BISMARCK, N.D. — An oak tree has been planted at a high school here in memory of a North Dakota National Guard soldier killed in Iraq. Ken Hendrickson, 41, was one of two National Guard soldiers killed in Iraq on Jan. 24 when their convoy was hit by a roadside bomb. Sgt. Keith Smette, 25, of Makoti, died with Hendrickson in the attack. Before being deployed to Iraq, Hendrickson worked as a computer technician for the Bismarck School District On Wednesday, family members and school and military officials gathered at the oak tree on the grounds of Bismarck High School. Principal Ken Erickson said the school wanted something long-lasting and ceremonial. “It’s a great honor for us, and I think a great tribute to Ken to have this tree grace our grounds,” Erickson said. Reane Hendrickson said the memorial gives her husband a place in people’s memories. “He’ll always be here,” she said.
— Associated Press

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