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Army Sgt. Kenneth R. Booker

Died November 14, 2007 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

25, of Vevay, Ind.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.; died Nov. 14, in Mukhisa, Iraq, of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.

Soldier from southeastern Indiana dies in Iraq bombing

The Associated Press

VEVAY, Ind. — Residents in this small Ohio River town in southeastern Indiana are mourning the death of a hometown soldier who was killed in Iraq last week by a roadside bombing.

A statement released Nov. 18 by the Pentagon said Sgt. Kenneth R. Booker, 25, died Nov. 14 in Mukhisa, Iraq, from wounds he suffered when a bomb exploded near his vehicle. It gave no additional details.

But Booker’s father, Charles Booker, said the family was told that his son’s vehicle, a Stryker eight-wheel-drive truck that he was commanding, was struck by a new form of improvised explosive device while on patrol.

The military began using Stryker vehicles in Iraq in March, believing that their speed and design would make them less vulnerable to roadside bombs than other vehicles.

Booker’s mother, Becky Graham of Milton, Ky., learned of her son’s death Nov. 15, the same day she had mailed a Christmas package to him. That package included a note stating that since he couldn’t be home for Christmas, Christmas was coming to him.

Graham had enclosed a little Christmas tree, a movie, Christmas music, a Christmas mug and cocoa for her son.

“I didn’t know he was already gone when I sent it,” she said Nov. 16.

Graham said her son joined the Army in 2000 after graduating from Switzerland County High School in Vevay, about 90 miles southeast of Indianapolis.

She said he had a clever sense of humor, liked to have fun and to go hunting.

“He was a funny person,” she said. “He had a really great sense of humor. He liked to joke around, he liked to hunt, was goodhearted, kind. He was quiet. He was just a wonderful person.”

Booker turned 21 in Afghanistan and 22 in Iraq during previous deployments, both when he was with the 82nd Airborne based at Fort Bragg, N.C., said his father, Charles Booker.

“I always had faith he was going to be all right, but you never know,” he said. “Even the best soldiers, it happens to.”

Booker was the 94th member of the military from Indiana to have died since February 2003 after being sent to the Middle East for the war in Iraq.

He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.

The Army transferred him to Fort Lewis, Wash., and into military intelligence, but he didn’t like it because he spent most of his time at a desk, Graham said.

She said that he asked for a transfer back to infantry, and joined a Stryker Brigade Combat Unit at Fort Lewis knowing it was headed for Iraq, she said.

Booker was sent to Iraq about six months ago and had recently been home for an 18-day leave. He left to return to Iraq on Sept. 12, the day after his brother, Kaleb Daniel Booker, turned 22, she said.

Graham said he son always downplayed the dangers he and other soldiers face in Iraq.

“He always told me, ‘It’s pretty dull here,’ ” she said.

But once when she was talking to him on the telephone, there was a loud explosion on his end. He asked if she had heard it; she said yes and asked what it was.

“Just another explosion,” he said.

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