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Local Soldier, Kenny F. Stanton Jr., Killed in Iraq

by DJ Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2006 at 4:10 AM

A Hemet High School graduate who was a budding journalist and a youth leader at his church has become the latest Inland serviceman -- and the third from his school -- to be killed in the war in Iraq.

Local Soldier, Kenny...
pfc._kenny_stanton_jr.jpg, image/jpeg, 300x449

Soldier killed in Iraq 'only thought of others'

GRIEF: Friends and family gather to mourn the death of Pfc. Kenny F. Stanton Jr.

10:00 PM PDT on Monday, October 16, 2006


The Press-Enterprise

A Hemet High School graduate who was a budding journalist and a youth leader at his church has become the latest Inland serviceman -- and the third from his school -- to be killed in the war in Iraq.

Pfc. Kenny Francis Stanton Jr., 20, of Hemet, died Oct. 13 in Baghdad from injuries he suffered after a bomb detonated near his armored Humvee, U.S. Army spokesman Sheldon Smith said Monday.

Smith said the incident occurred about 9:10 p.m., Baghdad time, while Stanton was inside the vehicle on patrol. He said it's uncertain if the bomb was set off after the vehicle ran over it or if it was set to explode remotely.

Stanton had been assigned to the 57th Military Police Company in Waegwan, Korea, but was in Iraq as part of his assignment rotation, Smith said.

Stanton's death follows those of two other Hemet High alumni who were killed in Iraq. Marine Cpl. Michael Estrella, 20, died in June and U.S. Army Specialist Jason Chappell, 22, died in January 2004.

"Hemet High is back in sad times," Assistant Principal Larry Kinney said about Stanton, who graduated in 2004.

Stanton's death has brought sadness to his friends and family, who gathered Monday at their Hemet home. Inside, they set up a small shrine bearing pictures, including of Kenny Jr. in uniform; mementoes, including his Army diploma; and messages of remembrance from friends and family.

"He was big hearted. He only thought of others," said his mother, Gloria L. Stanton, who fought back tears as she described the last time she spoke with her son last week. In that conversation, she said, he said everything was fine and urged her not to worry.

"He wanted to know how everybody was doing," she said.

She said he had urged her not to read the news about Iraq or worry too much about him.

His father, Kenny Stanton Sr., said it was like his son to try to paint a better picture of the situation so as not to cause worry for his parents.

"He wanted to protect his mom," Stanton said.

Stanton said military personnel knocked on their door on Saturday morning to tell them what happened.

Born in Downey, Stanton Jr. was a loving child who did well in school, his father said. He was the oldest of four children and was active in youth ministry at their church, Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church.

Stanton said his son was a reporter for the Hemet High newspaper, The Bulldog, and enjoyed sports, such as wrestling and basketball.

Stanton Jr. also enjoyed poetry and had thought about becoming an English teacher, his father said.

He said Stanton Jr. was active in youth ministry at church.

Stanton Jr. joined the Army because he wanted to make a difference and have the time to decide what to do in college, his father said. He attended boot camp at Fort Leonard in Missouri and was then transferred to South Korea. He was deployed to Iraq in July and was to stay there for a year, his father said.

"He was a great brother," said his younger brother, Mario, 17, a senior at Alessandro High School. He always checked on Mario to make sure he kept up with studies. "He was always concerned about the family and he told me take care of the family."

Hemet Vice-Mayor Marc Searl said the community shares in the family's grief and shows how the war in Iraq touches everyone.

"I don't think there are any words to express that kind of sorrow and heartache," he said. "This thing that's happening in Iraq affects the whole country."

After reviewing his transcripts, Kinney said, Stanton was the kind of student teachers wanted in their class.

Keith Rossi had Stanton in Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition. He said Stanton was eager to share ideas, inquisitive and always up for a challenge.

Kinney said the school is considering hanging a plaque in honor of the three alumni in the school's Freedom Shrine. The patriotic display on the second floor of the school's two-story classroom building includes historical documents such as the Bill of Rights and the Gettysburg Address.

Stanton kept an online journal on There he wrote about what he thought was important.

"The key to freedom lies within the soul of the mind. We need the heart to (breathe) and to survive, but when the soul of the mind is deceased, then you are dead."

As the news of his death reached his friends, his Web page has logged a number of messages.

One friend wrote: "You were a wonderful person with a wonderful heart. You had room for everyone there and that's where you kept us all."

© 2006, The Press-Enterprise Company

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Family Grieves

by DJ Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2006 at 4:10 AM

Family Grieves...
mario_stanton.jpg, image/jpeg, 300x207

Mario Stanton, 17, left, brother of Kenny Stanton Jr. who was killed Oct. 13 in Iraq, and Ivonne Vasquez, 17, console one another as Army Sgt. First Class Anthony Tellez leaves the Stanton home in Hemet. Stanton, 20, died from injuries he suffered after a bomb detonated near his Humvee.

William Wilson Lewis III / The Press-Enterprise

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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 7 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
Link to Kenny's MYSPACE page DJ Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2006 at 4:20 AM
AP Article DJ Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2006 at 8:24 PM
Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement DJ Friday, Oct. 20, 2006 at 4:29 AM
LA Times Article DJ Monday, Oct. 23, 2006 at 5:28 AM

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