New City native and West Point graduate Maj. Thomas "TK" Kennedy was one of three American soldiers killed Wednesday in a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense confirmed Thursday.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault, in which a bomber approached a group of soldiers on patrol near the Kunar Provincial Council office and blew himself up. In addition to Kennedy, 35, Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Griffin, 45, of Laramie, Wyo. and Air Force Maj. Walter D. Gray, 38, of Conyers, Ga. were killed, the DOD said. One Afghan civilian also was killed and three were wounded, The Associated Press reported.
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Hundreds of posts from friends, soldiers and family on a memorial Facebook page said Kennedy was a mentor who inspired many West Point cadets and fellow soldiers with his kindness and bravery. Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office released a statement saying he had directed flags on state government buildings be flown at half-staff on Tuesday.
Scott Paltos, a classmate at Don Bosco Preparatory High School in Ramsey, N.J., remembered Kennedy Thursday as selfless.
"He was a leader," Paltos said. "And he always gave back."
Kennedy was a lifelong New City resident and a 2000 graduate of West Point. He was an Army hockey player and officer representative, according to the U.S. Army Hockey Facebook page, and lived at West Point until June, when he was deployed with the Fort Carson, Colo.-based 4th Infantry Division.
He leaves behind a wife, Kami, and two children, Maggie and Brody.
Kennedy and Griffin were assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
Kennedy's Facebook page says there will be an informal celebration of his life at West Point on Saturday, a wake on Thursday, Aug. 16, and a funeral on Friday, Aug. 17, at the U.S. Military Academy Cadet Chapel at West Point. The page also indicated a memorial fund was being set up for his children.
In 2012, 217 U.S. service personnel have been killed in Afghanistan, according to the independent I-casualties organization.