RAMSEY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered all flags be flown at half-staff next week in honor of a New City soldier who was killed in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan.
Army Maj. Thomas E. Kennedy was killed Wednesday when a bomber detonated a suicide vest in Sarkowi, Afghanistan.
Close family friend John Ryan watched Kennedy and his two brothers grow up side-by-side with his three sons, always knowing that “Tommy,” as he was called, was destined for greatness.
“Tommy was in the middle of everything,” Ryan told CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown. “He was just your typical kid. Great, great kid.”
Kennedy leaves behind a wife, Kami, and twin children, a son and a daughter, who will turn two at the end of August.
“I said, ‘Tommy, you don’t have to do this anymore. (You’ve) been to Iraq twice, you’re married now, you have two beautiful babies at home, you don’t have to do this,'” Ryan said. “And he looked me in the eye with that great smile of his and he said, ‘I’m a soldier Uncle John, that’s what I do.'”
A memorial page set up on Facebook already has hundreds of posts from friends and family who are broken-hearted over the loss of a soldier and friend.
“I thought he was out of harms way over there, being a Major,” said family friend Hugh Delargy.
Kennedy graduated from West Point in 2000. He had served two tours of duty in Iraq, but it was his first time to Afghanistan. His deployment there began on July 18.
Family friend Helen Delargy said she watched through the years as his mother worried.
“She was so upset the first time he went to Iraq,” she said. “She was beside herself.”
In a statement on Friday, Cuomo said New Yorkers are mourning the loss of an “outstanding officer.”
“We will remember his honorable service to our nation and we are grateful for his dedication to duty,” he said.
Congresswoman Nan Hayworth also released a statement, saying Kennedy’s family needs “our prayers and our support.”
“Maj. Kennedy was not lost in vain so long as we remember him and honor his sacrifice with a renewed appreciation for all that our soldiers and their families do to assure our safety and protect our freedoms,” Hayworth said.
Two other troops were also killed in the attack. Kennedy and a fellow soldier who was killed were both assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
Kennedy attended Don Bosco Preparatory School. A charity foundation has been set up and already has more than $10,000 in donations to help take care of his wife and children.
“He was a great, great man, great soldier, noble man,” Ryan said. “A leader of men.”
A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday at West Point with a funeral to follow next week.
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