TRIBUTE TO STAFF SGT. MORGAN DeSHAWN KENNON AND THE 101ST AIRBORNE
(Extensions of Remarks - December 09, 2003)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.

[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E2522-E2524]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




   TRIBUTE TO STAFF SGT. MORGAN DeSHAWN KENNON AND THE 101ST AIRBORNE

                                 ______
                                 

                        HON. HAROLD E. FORD, JR.

                              of tennessee

                    in the house of representatives

                        Monday, December 8, 2003

  Mr. FORD. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Staff Sgt. 
Morgan DeShawn Kennon of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division, who 
was laid to rest in Memphis, Tennessee on November 14.
  Morgan Kennon and the 101st Airborne were called to duty in defense 
of this nation. They answered that call with courage and honor. Staff 
Sgt. Kennon was killed while protecting his fellow soldiers from an 
ambush in the Northern Iraqi city of Mosul. He was posthumously awarded 
a Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his bravery.
  In honor of Staff Sgt. Morgan Kennon and the brave members of the 
101st Airborne, I would like to submit for the Record letters Staff. 
Sgt. Kennon wrote to his sister Nicole Crawford in Memphis, as well as 
two articles from the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
  Amidst the ``devastation of war,'' the clarity with which Staff. Sgt. 
Kennon expresses himself makes all of us proud. These letters help us 
better understand the trials endured by our soldiers and the courage 
they demonstrate each day. I would urge my colleagues to read Staff. 
Sgt. Kennon's letters and join me in paying tribute to this exceptional 
young man and all of the heroes of the 101st Airborne Division.

          [From the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Nov. 14, 2003]

                          Letters to a Sister

       From the war in Iraq, Staff Sgt. Morgan DeShawn Kennon of 
     Memphis sent letters home to his sister Nicole Crawford. He 
     often spoke of Crawford's 12-year-old daughter, Kayla, and 
     his mother, Paulette Crawford-Webb.
     April 12, 2003
       ``I am in Baghdad now. I don't know where I may be when you 
     read this but I will probably still be here. It's been very 
     different here, Niki. The reason for the war, or the ulterior 
     motives that the government may have, regardless of all of 
     those things, the one true thing I can say is that these 
     people were very oppressed and impoverished under the rule of 
     Saddam.
       ``The welcome we've received in the cities and especially 
     when we got here was unbelievable and overwhelming. The 
     people here have even been giving us information about the 
     enemy and the bad guys. Right now, we are occupying a school, 
     that is where we are operating from.
       ``We have been staying in abandoned buildings and schools 
     since we came into Iraq. This particular one is in the ghetto 
     of Iraq; something like the projects. But the friendly 
     neighborhood closeness makes it peaceful, there are some bad 
     guys that live near (here) that the people told us about, but 
     we've been sniffing them out and they've been scattering.
       ``I have seen a whole lot more and more each day. Every 
     since the city collapsed there has been a lot of looting. On 
     our way to Baghdad we saw kids, women covered up, men, 
     everybody toting furniture, rolling tires, dragging 
     refrigerators across the street. And the children, they are 
     the most friendly and beautiful of all.
       ``It's still not too safe for comfort but fortunately the 
     Good Lord has been with us so far. I have kicked in a lot of 
     doors, been shot at by snipers. I haven't killed anyone but 
     we've captured a lot of people and seized a whole lot of 
     weapons and stuff. I have seen firsthand the devastation of 
     war and I realize that in war, someone always suffers, in 
     this case, a lot of people. But I will say that this whole 
     campaign has been very surgical and precise in not killing a 
     lot of people (innocent). I will just be happy to get back 
     home, safe and soon. I have been hearing rumors that we may 
     be coming back soon and being relieved by another unit but 
     when I get details, I'll let you know. . . .
       ``Just keep your head up and be thankful everyday that all 
     of us are waking up and loving each other. I saw a man shot 
     over here and it really let me know how quick and 
     unsuspecting our days can come to an end. So keep going 90 
     miles per hour with your life and know that your brother 
     loves you, respects you and is proud and honored to have you 
     as a sister. . . .
       ``How is everybody? Tell all of your friends that I said 
     `hi' and testify to the church that I am very thankful for 
     their prayers. The presence of the Lord is undeniable and 
     obvious.''
     April 20, 2003
       ``How is my favorite sister? Fine I hope. . . . I am so 
     happy to hear and feel the effort that you are putting into 
     your life. I'm proud of you and hope you can continue to take 
     good care because you know that no matter how much hardship 
     or struggle I feel or go through, I'm fine as long as I know 
     that you and mom and Kayla are OK.
       ``By the time you get this I will be in Northern Iraq near 
     the Turkey border. . . . And once again thank you for taking 
     care of my bills. I told you in the last letter that I might 
     be coming home soon. Well, don't count on that; no one seems 
     to know anything. I'll keep you updated.''
     April 26, 2003
       ``I'm still up north but we've relocated. We now operate 
     and live in a post office. Can you believe that? It's not 
     that bad though. There's electricity and running water here, 
     which is a huge improvement over some of the places we've had 
     to live in. . . . I can speak a little Arabic now (smiley 
     face). The people here are not as dangerous and the threat 
     level is not as high as it was in Baghdad and the other 
     previous cities but we still have to stay on our toes even 
     though the war is ``officially'' over there are still a lot 
     of rebel forces and fanatics and loyalists of Saddam and the 
     party regime. . . .
       ``So how's the family? I still pray for everybody every 
     single day. I don't know when I will be back but I've heard 
     everything from June to September. . . .
       ``When I know that you all are comfortable and OK, I can 
     deal with being uncomfortable. Y'all's convenience means a 
     whole lot to me. Well, enough about that. I realize that God 
     will continue to operate and provide for us (in his sometimes 
     ``weird'' way) as he has been so I won't worry about it. He 
     will make

[[Page E2523]]

     sure the ball continues to roll for us as long as we keep Him 
     first and continue to recognize and acknowledge Him. . . . 
     The next time I write you I'll probably be living in a shoe 
     store or a Mega-Market or something. But know that I'm OK and 
     I am very grateful for God's grace and mercy. Keep taking 
     care of yourself and I can't wait to see you again. Don't 
     forget your vitamins!''
     July 13, 2003
       ``Everything is still the same here. A couple of my friends 
     broke down on the interstate here and they were attacked by 
     hand grenades that were thrown at them from a passer-by. 
     One of them got hurt pretty bad, he went through surgery 
     but he is OK. He almost lost all usage of his arm; the 
     other guys are also stable.
       ``The irony is that I had just left where they were and had 
     talked with them. Other than that, everything is still the 
     same. You don't have to worry about me. I am always alert and 
     watchful, especially when I'm out in the streets here.
       ``By the time you get this (hopefully) we should start 
     preparations to leave here. I really can't wait to get back. 
     I want to see my ``3 ladies'' really bad: you, Mama and Kayla 
     are more than enough inspiration to get back soon and safe.''
     July 25, 2003
       ``Things are all right with me over here; of course I could 
     think of a million and one other things I could be doing 
     other than being in Iraq but since I'm here, I'm dealing with 
     it every day. I think I'm growing up a little bit. . . . I 
     think I value life more now, so I'm content with small simple 
     things and most of all my enjoyment and peace of mind comes 
     from y'all being all right and safe. I think that means more 
     to me than anything over here.''
     Sept. 13, 2003
       ``My dear sister, you have done so much for yourself and 
     your daughter. Many people face adversity in their lifetime 
     but very few of these people are able to keep climbing the 
     high hills the way you have. . . . Love you Nik and thank you 
     so much for giving me more wisdom than you ever know, helping 
     me develop into a man. . . . P.S. Load up on Vitamin C and 
     tell Mama to drink Concord grape juice. It lowers blood 
     pressure by 40 percent.''

          [From the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Nov. 14, 2003]

         ``He Was Not Afraid'': Beloved Soldier Felt a Purpose

                          (By Shirley Downing)

       In his letters home, Army Staff Sgt. Morgan DeShawn Kennon 
     wrote about living in a war zone:
       Camping in old buildings.
       Dodging snipers' bullets.
       Meeting friendly, beautiful children.
       Kennon landed in Iraq in April with the 101st Airborne and 
     a job to do. The Americans gained control of the country and 
     then, for months, Kennon heard rumors that his Charlie 
     Company might soon be headed back to the states.
       Last Tuesday, Kennon surprised his family with the news 
     that he would return to Memphis Nov. 19--not for good, but 
     for a two-week furlough timed to celebrate his mother's 47th 
     birthday.
       Three days later Kennon, 23, was dead, fatally wounded 
     while guarding a bank in Mosul. The Army said he'd died 
     immediately of blunt force trauma to the head, while trying 
     to protect the safety of his fellow soldiers.
       Kennon's family is devastated at the loss of a son, a 
     brother, uncle and brave soldier. He was a Christian who 
     reminded his sister to pray--and to take her vitamins.
       Funeral services will be at 11:30 this morning at N. J. 
     Ford & Sons Funeral Home, with burial in the West Tennessee 
     State Veterans Cemetery at 4000 Forest Hill--Irene.
       Kennon has been recommended for a Bronze Star, but to 
     family and friends, he's always been a hero.
       ``I have never met anyone who disliked him,'' said his 26-
     year-old sister, Nicole Crawford, whom he called Niki or Nik. 
     ``He was funny and smart. He was just wise beyond his age, he 
     really was.''
       Paulette Crawford-Webb, a pharmacy technician at University 
     of Tennessee Bowld Hospital, said her son ``was not afraid of 
     dying for his country.''
       ``He said the people of Iraq needed help. Conditions over 
     there were deplorable and he didn't think it was a lost 
     cause.''
       Kennon graduated from Central High School in 1997.
       ``He made great grades but he got an N in conduct,'' 
     Crawford said. ``He wasn't involved with gangs or criminal 
     activity; he was the class clown. He liked to make people 
     laugh and that kept him in trouble a lot.''
       After school, Kennon worked at Taco Bell, where he quickly 
     rose to management. ``He was just really smart and excelled 
     in everything he did,'' Crawford said. ``It might take 
     somebody else five years but he just did it in a year or 
     two.''
       He loved the Tennessee Titans and movies and wrestling, 
     said girlfriend Corporal Ghana Jackson, 23. She met Kennon 
     when both were stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. ``He was 
     awesome,'' she said. ``He got along with everybody and he had 
     no kind of enemies.''
       Kennon joined the Army at 17 and left for basic training at 
     18. After four years at Fort Hood, he re-upped and was 
     assigned to the 101st Airborne at Fort Campbell, Ky.
       The family last saw Kennon in February before he went 
     overseas.
       Baltimore Sun reporter Scott Calvert came to know Kennon 
     well in the opening days of the war.
       Kennon, he said, was the nuclear, chemical and biological 
     expert for the Third Battalion's Charlie Company. His first 
     sergeant said Kennon often worked overtime, and weekends, to 
     make sure everyone was prepared for war.
       ``His job was to make sure everybody in the company, 130 
     soldiers, had the proper chemical masks and suits,'' said 
     Calvert, who was embedded with Kennon's unit for seven weeks 
     last spring. ``His job was to make sure everybody was ready 
     with protective gear.''
       Calvert first met Kennon at Fort Campbell the day the 
     troops shipped out.
       ``It was chaotic,'' Calvert said. People were milling 
     about, gathering equipment, saying goodbye.
       In the midst of the crowd, Kennon approached Calvert. Did 
     he have all his equipment? Did he need help? ``It was a 
     pretty nice gesture on his part,'' Calvert said.
       Calvert said Kennon was a solid ``stand-up guy'' who always 
     wore a bright smile.
       The company was in Kuwait for a month, then it was on to 
     Iraq.
       Kennon called home sometimes once or twice a week. He asked 
     about his beloved black Dodge Intrepid, which he let his 
     sister drive with the promise she would not smoke up its 
     pristine interior with her cigarettes.
       His letters came regularly, handwritten on lined paper. 
     Once he teasingly asked his sister to write more often about 
     what was going on in his hometown.
       ``Where is the scoop? The gossip? The news? The sports 
     news? Where is it? You slippin' girl.''
       He wrote about family and a man's obligations to care for 
     his loved ones.
       ``There is nothing more impressive and respectful to me 
     than a man that takes care of his family.''
       He wrote about happiness and God.
       ``I pray about that (happiness) too, but we gotta take one 
     thing at a time and just be thankful that things have been 
     good for us. . .''
       There were other letters, and phone calls. The last was 
     Tuesday, Nov. 4, when Kennon said he'd be home in a few days. 
     He was eager to see family.
       Things in Iraq were getting ``a lot worse,'' Crawford 
     quoted her brother as saying.
       The family had sent him a ``care package'' filled with 
     canned fruit, but he hadn't received it yet.
       Then came the final mission. At about 7 a.m. on Nov. 7, 
     Kennon led a convoy of vehicles to an observation post. 
     Kennon was killed during an ambush as he was trying to 
     protect his fellow officers, Kennon's supervisor said in a 
     letter recommending the Bronze Star.
       Crawford said she never fully understood why her brother 
     was in Iraq, but she accepts that he ``went because he was 
     doing something he loved. He loved being in the military.''
       Paulette Crawford-Webb said her son did not worry about his 
     personal safety. ``He said his only sadness would have been 
     if something happened to him, what would become of me, his 
     sister and his niece?''
       Crawford said her brother truly was an exceptional person.
       ``He was a God-fearing young man. He was not afraid to 
     die.''

                          (By Shirley Downing)

          [From the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Nov. 15, 2003]

                Host of mourners bears Sgt. Kennon home

       Army Staff Sgt. Morgan D. Kennon of Memphis was given a 
     hero's farewell Friday morning, a week after he was killed in 
     Iraq.
       ``Death reminds us of the sovereignty of God, and the 
     frailty of man,'' Rev. Arthur Snow, pastor of Greater New 
     Shiloh Baptist Church, said to more than 500 mourners 
     attending services at N. J. Ford & Sons Funeral Home.
       Kennon's Bronze Star and Purple Heart were displayed next 
     to his flag-draped coffin. Large sprays of red and white 
     flowers surrounded the casket and the dais where dignitaries 
     sat.
       After the morning services, the funeral procession traveled 
     past honor guards of firefighters and schoolchildren with 
     signs as it made its way from South Memphis to the West 
     Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery in southeast Shelby County.
       Military honor guards gave folded flags to Kennon's mother 
     and father. A 21-gun salute for the soldier, the first 
     Memphian killed in the Iraqi war, broke the chilly fall air.
       Kennon, who was 23, joined the Army at 17 and left for 
     basic training at 18. After four years at Fort Hood, Texas, 
     he rejoined and was assigned to the 101st Airborne at Fort 
     Campbell, Ky.
       The family last saw Kennon in February before he went 
     overseas.
       He was fatally wounded during an attack on an Army convoy 
     guarding a bank in Mosul. The Army said he died immediately 
     of blunt force trauma to the head, while trying to protect 
     fellow soldiers.
       Kennon has been described as a smart, friendly man who 
     loved the Army, his family and God. He often wrote letters 
     home telling relatives not to worry, he was not afraid.
       U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. said he was moved by Kennon's 
     letters, portions of which were printed Friday in The 
     Commercial Appeal.
       ``In the midst of all that was going on over there, the 
     clarity with which he expressed himself makes all of us 
     proud,'' Ford said, as he addressed Kennon's tearful family 
     in the front pews at the funeral home.

[[Page E2524]]

       A top Army officer from Virginia and members of the 101st 
     Airborne attended services.
       ``We are here to be with the family, to respect and honor 
     this great soldier,'' Maj. Gen. Russell L. Honore of Norfolk, 
     Va., said before services began. ``He served proudly and with 
     distinction for our nation.'' Honore said he represented the 
     Secretary of the Army and the Chiefs of Staff.
       Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton thanked Kennon's family on 
     behalf of the citizens of the county.
       ``We share your loss,'' he said.
       Several of Kennon's friends spoke about his loyalty, 
     honesty and his love for family and the military.
       Snow's eulogy was so passionate the minister had to sit 
     down for part of its delivery.
       Kennon was ``a good man who could have at the age of 23 
     been on the streets doing nothing, but he chose to do 
     something positive and constructive with his life. It is 
     unfortunate that he was cut down at an early age,'' he said.
       Snow offered comfort for Kennon's mother, Paulette 
     Crawford-Webb, his father, Morgan Kennon, and other relatives 
     and friends.
       ``In spite of all that has transpired, God is still good,'' 
     Snow said. ``You need to know and understand today that Earth 
     has no sorrow that Heaven can't heal.''
       He said Kennon knew the risks of a military career, ``but 
     he trusted God.''
       Kennon was a soldier in the U.S. Army and a soldier in the 
     army of the Lord who did not fear death, Snow said.
       ``He was prepared externally and he was prepared 
     internally. He wasn't afraid of what could happen to him 
     because he knew that with Jesus, he would be all right.''

                          ____________________