Kenny W Leisten
July 28, 2004
|Died in Taji, Iraq, when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device.|
For Some Memorial Service Snapshots, Click photo below:
August 9, 2004
|From Lisa LaBlanc-Willis 08/15/04:
I raised Kenny from the time he was two years old until he shipped out for boot camp. He was a funny, smart, sweet kid, with a loving spirit and a huge smile. As he grew into a young man, his intelligence, individuality, integrity, and just plain gutsy determination showed themselves in a variety of ways. He was cool under pressure. He questioned the status quo if something seemed unfair to him. He had compassion. He stood up for freedom of speech and expression. He faced challenges squarely and with conviction. These were, of course, all things I tried to model for him and instill in him - but some of this can't be taught - it's just who he was. He joined the military in large part as a way to pay for college, but his convictions were such that he never flinched from the possibility of being put in harm's way. When the call-up came for the Oregon National Guard he voluntarily switched units to ensure that he would go to Iraq.
|From Aunt Jenny 07/26/05:
My Nephew was SPC Kenny W Leisten, Kenny was killed in Iraq on the 28th of 2004.I miss him with all of my heart and soul, for anyone that never got the chance to meet Kenny, he was a wonderful young man, Kenny was smart, always smiled know matter what was in his way, I know that he was looking forward to being part of the military and he was having a blast with his buddies, I wish all of the families that have lost a loved one my condolences and for the ones still fighting in Iraq and other places a safe return home, with all my love a prayers for you all. Kenny's Aunt jenny Audrain
|Ken moved to Washington County from San Diego with his father and stepmother at age 7. As a teenager, He spent hours tinkering with his computer. Once, he visited an Intel plant and got a ride in a Mercedes Benz, learning about the company from an executive. Dulled by the slow pace of classes at Forest Grove High School, he earned his General Educational Development degree a year early and signed up with the Army to get money for college. Months later, he joked with LaBlanc that the days he thought he had wasted playing and fixing his video game machine later paid off in the Army. They had sharpened his marksmanship skills. He had planned to travel to help in Afghanistan after his tour in Iraq. Later he had hoped to study computer science at an area college. A father whose only son was killed in Iraq says he is proud of the man whose intelligence and independence led him to take risks. Ken was a tough, quiet and kind man who was easily embarrassed by his father's hugs and kisses and planned to attend college after his return and become a software mogul. Those who knew him say he rarely lost his cool, even on the day when he took his father's car for a ride and drove it into a ditch. The 17-year-old managed to get the car out, drove it home, parked it in the driveway, grabbed a snack and headed quietly to his bedroom to listen to music without saying a word to his father. Later, a neighbor who lived two doors down from the family in Cornelius, heard screaming in the driveway. "The car's wrecked and Kenny's dad is screaming" and trying to figure out what happened. He is survived by his father, Ken Leisten Sr., and stepmother, Lisa LaBlanc and mother, Kim Strahan. He was 20.|
|Oregon soldier killed in Iraq
PORTLAND, Ore. — An Oregon National Guard soldier died and two were injured when their armored Humvee was struck by an explosive, a Guard spokeswoman said.
Pfc. Ken W. Leisten, 20, of Warrenton, was killed Wednesday in Taji, Iraq. Leisten, the Humvee driver, had volunteered to join the 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry Regiment,to become part of the rotation into Iraq, spokeswoman Kay Fristad said in a statement Thursday.
It’s unclear whether the bomb that hit the Oregon unit was detonated by insurgents as the Humvee drove by or whether it was triggered by the vehicle’s weight.
The soldiers injured were Sgt. 1st Class Phillip V. Jacques, 33, of Albany, and Pfc. Benjamin Ring, 19, of Blodgett, a small town west of Corvallis.
* * * * *
Father remembers son killed in Iraq
CORNELIUS, Ore. — A father whose only son was killed in Iraq this week says he is proud of the man whose intelligence and independence led him to take risks.
Pfc. Ken W. Leisten, 20, died Wednesday when a roadside bomb exploded near the Humvee he was driving in Taji, Iraq.
“He was a beautiful man. He was my baby,” said his father, Ken Leisten Sr. of Beaverton. “He was always embarrassed about his old dad giving him a kiss and hug when we’d say goodbye.
“I’d give my life in a heartbeat to have him back here right now.”
Lt. Peter Wood of Northeast Portland, who is still in Iraq, told The Oregonian via e-mail that Leisten’s convoy was on a routine patrol west of the Oregon Army National Guard’s Camp Cooke when the bomb detonated.
“It left a huge crater and destroyed the Humvee,” he said. The bomb “was buried in the middle of the road, and there was no way that they knew it was there.”
The younger Leisten was originally assigned to the Oregon National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 162nd Infantry, but he voluntarily switched units to ensure a tour in Iraq. He went overseas with the 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry and had been part of a unit supplementing theArkansas National Guard’s 39th Infantry Brigade.
Leisten moved to Washington County from San Diego with his father and stepmother, Lisa LaBlanc, at age 7. As a teenager, Leisten spent hours tinkering with his computer. Once, he visited an Intel plant and got a ride in a Mercedes Benz, learning about the company from an executive.
Dulled by the slow pace of classes at Forest Grove High School, he earned his General Educational Development degree a year early and signed up with the Army to get money for college.
Months later, he joked with LaBlanc that the days he thought he had wasted playing and fixing his video game machine later paid off in the Army. They had sharpened his marksmanship skills.
The elder Leisten said his son had planned to travel to help in Afghanistan after his tour in Iraq. Later he had hoped to study computer science at an area college.
Now, Leisten Sr. grieves by sorting through pictures of his son.
“He had a smile that would stop a truck,” Leisten Sr. said. “Bright and wide. He was happy.”
— Associated Press
|From Oregon Military Department oregon.gov
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