Kenneth L. Bender

First Sergeant Kenneth L. Bender, age 87, of Marysville, passed away on Saturday, March 2, 2019, at Crestview Nursing and Residential Living in Seneca.

First Sergeant Kenneth L. Bender, United States Army Retired, of Polo, Illinois, passed away on March 2, 2019, in Seneca, Kansas, at the age of 87.

Kenny, as he was known by his friends, was born in Polo, Illinois on April 27, 1931, the of William and Ethyl Bender. Kenneth graduated from Polo Community High School in 1949, and was initially employed as a welder for Central Quality Industries.

Kenny entered military service in the US Army on March 23, 1951 at Fort Sheridan, Illinois and immediately proceeded to Camp Stoneman, California, where he was transported to Hawaii for basic training at Honolulu, Hawaii. Sergeant Bender completed his basic training in July of 1951 and was then deployed to the Korean Conflict with thousands of other soldiers.

Sergeant Bender served in the Korean Conflict as an Automatic Weapons Rifleman, 60mm Mortar Gunner, 40 Caliber Machine Gun Ammunition Bearer and Rifleman. After many other deployments to areas of the world, Sergeant Bender was activated for duty in the Vietnam War as a First Sergeant of Company D, 1/12th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division from Fort Lewis, Washington. Sergeant Bender was assigned to the Vietnam campaign on August 21, 1967 in the area of Da Nang. His tour of duty saw action in many of the pivotal battles of the Vietnam War, primarily the Tet Offensive at the beginning of January 1968 during the New Year Celebrations conducted by the local government. Sergeant Bender was instrumental in the fighting that took place on Hill 875, one of the bloodiest battles of that conflict.

Sergeant Bender served a total of 84 months overseas and 20 years of active military service. His love of country and service was unmatched.

Kenneth Bender retired from active duty on March 31, 1971, and relocated to Polo, Illinois. In June of 1985, Kenny and Florella Bender moved to Monroe, Wisconsin, to enjoy the retirement both richly deserved.

Throughout his career he was awarded many honors commensurate with his charcter and poise under fire. During his illustrious career, Kenneth was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge with bronze star, Army Commendation Medal, two National Defense Service Medals, Good Conduct Medals, Vietnam Campaign Medal with four battle stars, Vietnam Service Medal, Korean Service Medal with two battle stars, United Nations Medal, Army of Occupation Medal from German, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm, Civil Actions Honor Medal, 1st class, Korean Presidential Unit Citation, US Army Presidential Unit Citation (1951 and 1967.)

Sergeant Bender was a Life Member of the VFW, American Legion, 2nd Infantry Division, 9th Infantry Division, 4th Infantry Division, 12th Infantry Regiment, Retired Enlisted Association and Korean War Veterans Association.

Kenneth loved his gardens and the many flowers he nurtured to life. During his last days these brought him much joy. This man loved life to its fullest, every single day.

Kenneth married the former Florella Kline on December 6, 1969, at the Evangelical United Methodist Church in Polo, Illinois.

Survivors include Florella of Marysville, Kansas, two sons; Randy Bender of Mountain View, California and David Bender of Lake Havasu, Arizona and daughter JoAnne of Tacoma, WA, brothers Leonard (Connie) of Morrison, Sid (Shirley) of Baraboo, WI.  He is preceded in death by his parents and a sister Erma Jean Bender.

Graveside memorial services will be held on June 1, 2019, at Fairmount Cemetery, Polo, Illinois, starting at 11:00 am. Inurnment will be in the family lot at Fairmount Cemetery.

Memorials are suggested to the Open Bible Church in Polo, Illinois.

Condolences may also be sent to pffh.condolences@gmail.com.