As the Glendora community mourns the loss of hometown soldier Staff Sergeant Kenneth Wade Bennett, the city prepares to honor the fallen soldier by lowering flags at half-staff Friday.
Bennett, 26, was killed Saturday in Sperwan Gar, Afghanistan from injuries sustained from an explosion of a buried enemy bomb.
Bennett, known by most people as Wade, was born and raised in Glendora. He attended Sutherland Elementary School, Goddard Middle School and Glendora High School. He graduated from Glendora High School in 2004 and joined the army shortly after.
Bennett was trained in explosive ordnance disposal, and was serving in the 53rd Ordnance Company at the time of his death.
Bennett was based in Yakima, Wash. where he met and married his wife, Mandi Foster. When Bennett left for his third deployment to Afghanistan in September, he and his wife had just purchased a home in Washington where they hoped to raise their two year-old daughter Lila. The couple was also expecting another child due in May.
While Bennett served his country, his parents were active members in the Glendora Yellow Ribbon Project. His mother was the co-chair of the organization, which hangs banners across the city for local service men and women currently serving their country.
Bennett’s banner, which hung for years on Auto Center Drive near the 57 Freeway South entrance, meant a lot to him, said Debbie Neal of the Glendora Yellow Ribbon Project.
Following Bennett’s death, the group temporarily removed Bennett’s banner to place a black band with a gold star across the red and white stripes. The banner will be returned to its original spot Wednesday.
“Wade made it clear to all who knew him, that his job in the army was to protect his fellow service members regardless the branch of service,” Kathleen Gonzales of the Yellow Ribbon Project said at the Glendora City Council meeting Tuesday. “Wade’s daily goal was to make the road safe for those he served.”
According to a statement by Bennett’s family, Bennett had confided in his wife before he was killed that if he died while deployed, he wanted to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery alongside other service men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice. A date for funeral services at Arlington Cemetery is still pending.
Glendora Mayor Gene Murabito expressed his condolences to Bennett family for their loss following news of Bennett’s death.
“While we give thanks to all veterans for their service, we stand with the Bennett family in the loss of their son and husband,” said Murabito in a written statement. “I can't imagine the pain that the Bennett family is going through, and I hope they can find some measure of comfort in the community that supports them.”
Murabito signed a city proclamation Tuesday ordering all flags at city facilities to be flown at half-staff in honor of Bennett. He encouraged all residents and businesses to lower their American flags at half-staff on Friday as well.
In lieu of flowers to the Bennett family, the family requests that donations be made to help Bennett’s wife and children. Checks for the Bennett family can be mailed to Kathleen Gonzales at 400 S. Minnesota Avenue, Glendora, CA, 91741.