By Megan Paice, RDECOM Public AffairsDecember 6, 2017
ABERDEEN, Md. -- Michelle Murphy lost her son, Sgt. Kendell Frederick, to an improvised explosive device. He was riding in the vehicle to get his fingerprints taken to become an American citizen.
Frederick was honored on Nov. 18 when a bridge was dedicated in his name by the Maryland Transportation Commission.
Friends, family and local officials joined in celebrating Frederick's life, including the senior noncommissioned officer of the U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Frank Gutierrez, Research, Development and Engineering Command.
Gutierrez stressed the importance of not dwelling on how Frederick died but remembering how he lived.
"Celebrating their lives brings inspiration and ambition that drives us to the future. By remembering these Soldiers, we keep their memory alive," Gutierrez said.
Frederick, who emigrated to the U.S. when he was 15, joined the Army after graduating from Randallstown High School. At his mother's request, Frederick was in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen when he was killed.
Murphy championed her son to raise awareness, which resulted in the Kendell Frederick Citizenship Assistance Act. The Department of Homeland Security is now required to use fingerprints taken by the military to process citizenship papers and created a dedicated customer service line for service members and their families to call with questions.
"Kendell always kept everyone laughing. He is no longer with us in the flesh, but even in death, he continues to help his immigrant brothers and sisters in arms. So his legacy lives on," Murphy said.
Murphy currently serves as the vice president of the Gold Star Mothers of Maryland. Mothers of fallen service members become Gold Star Mothers.
"As a parent, it's impossible to truly appreciate the gravity of loss for a family. The fact that this mother has gone above and beyond to make sure that this wouldn't happen to anyone else's child. That says a lot about her, their family and their effort for a legitimate layer of security for other service members in a similar situation," Gutierrez said, referring to the law passed in honor of Frederick.
The Patriot Guard Riders, a local group that supports the families of fallen service members, escorted Murphy and her three children from the sign unveiling at the bridge, to the dedication ceremony, where Frederick's life was celebrated.
The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities for decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the Joint Warfighter and the Nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.