Fallen Hero Joseph Kennedy, United States Army

Joseph A. Kennedy

December 1, 1985 - April 15, 2011
United States Army

When Joseph’s mother Valerie Kennedy came to my studio to see her son’s portrait for the first time, and take it home to the family she had tears of sadness and joy. She said it was like “looking right at him.” And there was so much about Joe, that when we sat down for a visit and I said, “Tell me about Joe”, the story of his life unfolded beautifully. So here with the help of his mom I will do my best to describe an ‘energy filled’ life with a lot of spirit.

Joe Kennedy ‘lived life full throttle’, and those very words are on his headstone. He worked hard and played harder. He had a unique way of bringing very different groups of people together because he was kind to everyone. Joe had many hobbies – all were adrenaline driven. He enjoyed bicycling, roller blades, snowboarding, and in school he was a wrestler. One of his greatest passions was riding his Suzuki GXS-R1000 at top speed. And he loved to ‘blow things up.’ One afternoon Valerie heard a loud explosion in the back yard. Joe and his little brother Casey were very pleased that their dry ice bomb (created with a liter size soda bottle) was a great success! It seems that he also had a great sense of humor, and a very infectious smile.

At the time of his graduation from high school in 2004 Joe was talking about going into the service. His father Jim Kennedy convinced him to wait a while. Then one of Joe’s wrestling buddies was severely injured in Fallujah, and the Kennedy family kept up on the young Marine’s recovery. Joe was working with his father on the river, and by the end of 2008 made up his mind that he had to go. He wanted to be a part of something bigger than himself. He went into basic at age 23 with an 18xray contract for Special Forces in April 2009. He wanted to be an engineer with the Green Berets……blow things up and rebuild them…….as his mother put it. Joe would have probably done 10 to 20 years in the service. After that he wanted to own his own business, most likely an off-road/mechanic shop. He loved tinkering with vehicles, installing extreme lifts and modifications to most of his units that he drove. He also wanted very much to marry and raise a family.

Sadly Joe was killed in action in Sini, Afghanistan on April 15, 2011 during small arms fire when his unit was ambushed by insurgents. States his parents: “Joe had – and still has – an amazing spirit. He taught us so much about life and continues to do so after his ‘return home.’” Joe was 25 years old.

Portrait sponsored by:
Lance Cpl. Curtis M. Swenson Memorial Fund, Rochester, MN