Army Sergeant First Class Kenneth W. Westbrook was looking forward to retiring from the military in November, a long-cherished milestone that would allow him to spend more time with his wife and three sons. Then came the call to Afghanistan and one final tour of duty. With U.S. casualties mounting in the war-torn region, the dangers were evident. Yet Westbrook didn’t hesitate.
“They called him up and he said, ‘Of course I’ll go,’” related his brother, David Westbrook, 50, of Farmington, N.M., in a phone call Sunday night. “He was a strong believer in the job he was doing for our country.”
About two months from retirement, the 41-year-old Westbrook found himself in a fierce battle Sept. 8 during which he was gravely wounded when insurgents attacked his unit in the Ganjigal Valley of Afghanistan. The insurgents used small arms and indirect fire, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. Westbrook, who was assigned to the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Riley, died from his wounds Wednesday at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. His brother, Sergeant Marshall A. Westbrook, of the 126th Military Police Company of the New Mexico Army National Guard, died at age 43 on Oct. 1, 2005, when a bomb exploded near his Humvee in Baghdad, Iraq.
We honor you, Kenneth Westbrook.