A Yakima-based soldier was killed over the weekend in Afghanistan when an enemy bomb exploded, military officials said.
Staff Sgt. Kenneth Wade Bennett, 26, died Saturday near Kandahar, Afghanistan, during Army combat operations, the Department of Defense said in a statement.
Bennett served with the 53rd Ordnance Company, based at the Yakima Training Center, part of Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Bennett is survived by his wife, Mandi, and a 2-year-old daughter born in Yakima.
“He died an honorable death. We are still praying for his other battalion members,” his sister, Rene Bennett, said from the family home in Glendora, Calif.
She said he would be best remembered for his gregarious nature and sense of humor.
“He was a funny guy. He was the life of the party. He made friends everywhere he went,” she said.
She said the family has been reluctant to bring attention to his death, which is in keeping with the approach taken by him and other members of his unit. “He didn’t go into the service to get into the news,” she said.
The San Gabriel Valley Tribune of West Covina, Calif., reported that Bennett joined the Army in 2004 after graduating from Glendora High School.
His mother, Nancy, is co-chair of a Glendora group that helps recognize local service members. The organization announced Staff Sgt. Bennett’s death on its Web page.
He was trained as an explosive ordnance disposal specialist, responsible for safely neutralizing bombs and other devices. Bennett had served in Afghanistan on three deployments since 2007, most recently departing with the 53rd in September, Lewis-McChord officials said in a statement.
Locally, the 53rd is known for its work to handle explosive-related calls for law enforcement agencies across Central Washington.