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Ocean City Flag Ceremony Honors Capt. Brian T. Kennedy, Recalled as a ‘Special’ Marine

first_imgTom Tumelty. left, and Tom Kennedy as they raise the American Flag at dawn. After graduating from the Naval Academy, he joined the Marines and became a pilot, flying the huge CH-53 “Super Stallion” helicopters that are used for lifting heavy cargo and carrying troops.Tom Kennedy, Capt. Brian T. Kennedy’s uncle, accepts the flag from Joe Bisbing, commander of the American Legion of Cape May County, and Tom Tumelty, service officer for American Legion Post 524 in Ocean City.Tom Kennedy said the type of helicopter Brian flew reflected his personality and his dedication to military service. Brian Kennedy grew up in Malvern, Pa., where his immediate family still lives. He is survived by his parents, William and Linda Kennedy, and his sister, Caitlin Kennedy. Strong emotions and fond memories rushed over him as he recalled the life of the fallen Marine helicopter pilot. Then he smiled. “I guess we always thought that Brian was a special kid,” Kennedy said. “He was very single-minded and always knew what he wanted to.” He followed his father and both of his grandfathers into the military, Tom Kennedy noted. “He died loving what he was doing,” Tom Kennedy said. “He died with the intent of keeping America safe and keeping it the greatest country in the world.” He is also survived by his wife, Maj. Paige Stull Kennedy, who is a Marine helicopter instructor pilot in Pensacola, Fla. They were married only 11 months before he was killed.Military veterans joined members of the Kennedy family for the ceremony.The Kennedy family’s ties to the Jersey Shore include spending summers in Cape May and Ocean City. Another one of Capt. Kennedy’s uncles, Paul, a Roman Catholic priest in Philadelphia, has a home in Ocean City. The reverent, flag-lowering ceremony culminated a day of honor in Capt. Kennedy’s memory. At sunrise, the same flag was raised at the Ocean City Welcome Center. “It was always his goal to go to the Naval Academy,” Tom Kennedy said. By Donald Wittkowski After graduating from Conestoga High School in 2003, Brian Kennedy attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. He majored in oceanography and made the dean’s list every semester while earning his degree in 2007. “Brian always wanted to give back. He applied to fly this type of helicopter because he always wanted to be first on the scene,” Kennedy said. “He always wanted to keep a hand in whatever he did. He always wanted to help everybody.” Tom Kennedy had to compose himself for a moment Wednesday evening while thinking about his nephew, Capt. Brian T. Kennedy. What he wanted to do was to serve his country as a Marine helicopter pilot. His life was cut short during a midair collision in January between two Marine helicopters during a nighttime training mission off Hawaii. In all, 12 Marines died in the crash.Thousands of miles from where the 31-year-old Kennedy was killed, members of his family joined with military veterans to honor him Wednesday during a flag ceremony that took place at sunset at the Ocean City Welcome Center.The solemn ceremony at the Ocean City Welcome Center included lowering the flag at sunset.As a brilliant red sun dipped below the western horizon, bugler Jack Hagan of American Legion Post 524 of Ocean City played the mournful notes of “Taps.” Tumelty and Bisbing then carefully folded the flag and presented it to Tom Kennedy, who represented the Kennedy family.The American flag was carefully folded by Tumelty, left, and Bisbing before it was presented to the Kennedy family.“I’m going to fly it at my house in Brian’s honor and in honor of the 11 other Marines who died in the crash, as well as the rest of the men and women in military service,” said Kennedy, who lives in Blue Bell, Pa. Tom Tumelty, service officer of Post 524, and Joe Bisbing, commander of the American Legion of Cape May County, slowly lowered the American flag while Hagan played.last_img read more