Spec. Kendell K. Frederick was born in Trinidad and moved to the United States in his early teens. Although he was not a citizen, he loved his adopted country so much that he enlisted in the Army Reserve.
He was pursuing U.S. citizenship when he was killed in Iraq on Oct. 19. Frederick, 21, of Randallstown, died at 6:15 p.m. when an improvised explosive devise detonated near his vehicle. He was in the last truck of a convoy when the explosion occurred.
Yesterday, Frederick, one of five Marylanders killed in Iraq last month, was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. During the ceremony, his family received a certificate that granted Frederick U.S. citizenship posthumously.
Frederick was also awarded a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, a Meritorious Service Medal and a posthumous promotion to sergeant, according to Maj. Greg Yesko, a spokesman for the 99th Regional Readiness Command, which includes Maryland.
More than 200 mourners paid their respects to Frederick at his final resting place. After a three-volley rifle tribute, a bugler played taps as a yellow butterfly fluttered over the flag-draped coffin.
An honor guard solemnly folded the flag and handed it to Major Gen. William H. Johnson, who knelt to present it to Frederick's mother, Michelle Murphy. Another flag was presented to his father, Peter Ramsahai, and a third to his grandfather, Kenneth Rogers.
Other relatives included Frederick's stepfather, Kenmore Murphy, and younger siblings Kennisha, Kendra and Kwesi. "I truly believe he represented the very finest America's youth has to offer," said Stephan Strzemienski, the retired Navy commander in charge of the Navy Junior ROTC at Randallstown High School. Frederick joined the program as a freshman and participated all four years, eventually rising to the rank of chief petty officer before graduating in 2003.
Strzemienski said Frederick was a model student, with strong academic skills, exemplary behavior and an athletic prowess that he displayed on the school soccer team. Over the years, he watched Frederick mature into a focused and capable young man who was proud to wear his military uniform. Strzemienski wasn't surprised when Frederick decided in his junior year to pursue a career in the military.
"He was focused. He had direction, and he knew what he wanted," Strzemienski said.
After graduation, Frederick began training as a mechanical engineer. He was assigned to the Army Reserve's 983rd Engineer Battalion, based in Monclova, Ohio, and was sent to Iraq to work on power generators. His unit, which specializes in construction of roads and infrastructure, depended on him to operate and maintain the portable electrical sources needed to perform their work.
While home on leave about a month ago, Frederick returned to his high school campus and took time to talk to JROTC cadets, answering their questions about the military with candor and even discussing his feelings about having killed enemy fighters.
"There were occasions he had to shoot back, and I think it bothered him," Strzemienski said. "He wasn't comfortable with that at all."
Elaine Hyatt, a neighbor who had known Frederick for several years, saw him during his recent leave. She was pulling into her driveway when she spotted the brilliant smile.
"You have never seen a smile like this young man had," Hyatt said. "That smile just warmed your heart. It kind of made you want to sing inside."
Hyatt had watched Frederick play in the back yard with his toddler brother, Kwesi, during his visit and said the little one clung to his older brother like glue.
"This is a young man who gave his life for all of us," Hyatt said. "It's a tremendous loss for everybody."
Frederick was the 188th person killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom to be buried at Arlington Cemetery.
Spec. Kendall K. Frederick was a native of Trinidad.