Chief Warrant Officer II Kenneth Welch was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. Internment started in the chapel at Arlington and moved to section 59 where his grave lies.
Here are excerpts of the eulogy for Ken which was given by Colonel William V. Bournes on, September 26,1984. Col. Bournes was Ken's commander in Dublin, Ireland.
Ken was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on 23 May 1951, the son of Betty Welch. He graduated from Kelloggsville High School where he enjoyed, along with his brothers... the typical youthful pursuits with a fondness for sports. He was an avid tinkerer and practiced mechanic.
At about the age of 21 (in 1972) Ken enlisted in the Army. He served initially at Fort Knox and subsequently with the Armed Forces Courier Service overseas in Saigon (1972 -73) and in Brussels (1973-78). He entered voluntarily the Defense Attaché System. Following a brief training period, he was posted from 1978 to 1979 to the Defense Attaché Office, Tehran as the Intelligence Assistant. He departed Tehran in the phased reduction of the office just prior to its 1979 takeover by the Khomeni regime. Ken then became the operations coordinator in Dublin, Ireland followed by assignments to Yaoundi, (Cameroon), to Beijing, (China), and to Beirut, Lebanon) to which he reported on 17 May, just four short months ago.
...His entire extended family was important to Ken; and his wife and his two bright, healthy boys were a source of immense pride and enjoyment to him.
Ken joined me at the embassy in Dublin in November 1979. In retrospect, I had great misgivings about his posting to that assignment. He was junior in rank, an E-6 and the first of that rank ever to be assigned to that office; The cost of living was exorbitant; he was inexperienced; and, he had two very small and active children. He was also shy and extremely quiet. Despite these things, I soon realized he was something special. Through the prudent management of his finances, he experienced no great trauma--the problem I had feared most. He grasped quickly the fundamentals of his responsibilities. He wasn't hampered by experience. He digested the administrative procedures rapidly; and, he established and exceptional level of rapport with the American Embassy staff--both the local employees and the Foreign Service Officers--from the American Ambassador William V. Shannon on down, which continues to exist to this day. He was a performer and he was soon the most popular guy in the embassy.
In short order the word spread that "Ken could fix it." He was impossible to locate at night and on weekends. He was besieged with calls to repair cars and appliances. Even during lunch hour Ken could be seen under staff member's car. He was also called on by the Embassy staff to repair word processors, typewriters, calculators and the embassy emergency generator on an occasion or two. He never complained; and, to my knowledge, he was seldom if ever reimbursed. When the Embassy received its new communications and word processing equipment, Ken became the maintenance expert despite his total absence of formal instruction. He merely pilfered the appropriate manuals and entered into intensive self-taught program. Ken realized that his detailed knowledge of this system would enable him to assist the short-handed embassy staff and thus their support to our office operations would be enhanced. He was right as usual.
In 1979 I discussed with Ken the merits of becoming a warrant officer. But, he shrugged this suggestion off as a fruitless endeavor. He believed his professional background was too limited; he was a bit over weight; and, he was unsure of his personal capacity to tackle the greater responsibilities associated with this grade. His apprehension was typical of his modest, Mid-Western self appraisal. In fact, he had continually demonstrated an unqualified capacity to shoulder the mantel of most positions in the Defense Attaché System--as I viewed them. Nonetheless we proceeded with his application knowing that a very difficult task faced us. First, it was necessary to persuade Washington that Ken was not too inexperienced and that he was a solid soldier as I had portrayed and truly believed him to be. This was merely a writing task. Then we were informed that Ken was some 20 pounds overweight and that a medical officer's certification upon attaining an acceptable weight would be required prior to any Washington action on his application. In true form, Ken tackled this problem with absolute dedication and enthusiasm. He wrapped himself in a black plastic garbage bag to cause him to perspire profusely. He then jogged from his quarters to work--a distance of about three miles each way in the morning reversing this effort in the evening. In addition to appearing silly to the Irishmen and ladies along his route, this Herculean effort failed to have the dramatic impact hoped for. He was, after all, in good shape. Another solution was called for if the bureaucracy was to be beaten into submission.
I asked for and received an appointment with a prominent local physician for a routine health consultation. Arriving at the appointed hour, I discussed the problem with the quietly pensive physician. The doctor then turned his full attention to Ken. He noted Ken was a "tad large"--but, that he was a "great raw-boned lad". Ken was assured that, in the doctor's opinion, he was not overweight. After some detailed discussion of the problem, the doctor asked that I wait in the outer office while he conducted his examination. On departing the reception room, the doctor pointed to his rather antiquated scales and philosophized about weight. "It is a superficial measure of one's health, he said. We in the medical profession ought to be measuring the size of heart--a far more useful measure. It's the inside not the outside that counts," he said with a touch of sarcastic concern over our preoccupation with what he considered a minor problem. When Ken and the doctor emerged, about on half hour later, they were discussing with great liveliness American baseball--which the doctor, an graduate of an American Medical College, loved. It was obvious that Ken had taught the doctor how to play his computer football game which he always carried in his pocket. At any rate I noticed that the doctor still held Ken's infernal "toy" in his hand! After some further light hearted banter the doctor pronounced Ken "fighten fit," the ultimate Irish measure of health. To my surprise, he then asked that I step on the scales. I hopped on dutifully. The registration quivered at about 185 pounds. He asked me how I felt and what I believed a decent weight for me should be. Puzzled, I responded that, in my opinion, a weight of about 165 would approach perfection. He studied my frame thoughtfully and allowed as how that would be "a bit skeletal" "but," he said, "if that was what you believe it should be, it is good enough for me." He then bent to one knee and twisted the calibration knob. As the weight indicator started to fall he kept inquiring as to the state of my health. "Let me know when you feel best," he said, with a chuckle. When the needle approached at 165 pounds, he said, "tell me when." "Now" I said, as the needle quivered at 165 pounds. Good," he responded as he stood erect and smoothed his frock.
His ruddy-complexioned face framing a boyish grin gleamed with a bit of perspiration. It was necessary for him to catch his breath momentarily from the exertion. "OK, Mr. Welch," he said, "It's your turn!" A bit confused, Ken stepped on the scales with his weight registering an acceptable 195 pounds. He had overcome the final obstacle! Ken and the doctor traded baseball stories to the door as we departed with the certified documentation. Our efforts were rewarded on 26 February 1981. Ambassador William Vincent Shannon honored us by bestowing this well-deserved promotion on Ken... Ken became one of the youngest warrant officers in the Defense Attaché System in terms of service. The entire embassy staff attended the event and every member extended warm and sincere congratulations to this unique young man.
Unfortunately, Ken departed Dublin the following month, in March, 1981, for his new posting in his new rank to Yaounde, Cameroon. From there, he was reassigned to Beijing, China; and following a brief training period in the U.S. Ken was reassigned further to Beirut.
It is a simple matter to praise Ken Welch, for his magnificent attitude and the tremendous effort he always put into his job. It is impossible, however, for me to measure his loss. We here today have lost more than a friend and a loved one. Woody Hayes, the Ohio State coaching legend, would characterize the tragic loss as that of a winner--as I do. Ken never looked at his shoelaces; he made things happen. He was always light of spirit and standing by with a helping hand. And, he always could recite a light hearted story to promote his theory that a measure of good humor made everything achievable and tolerable. He was a team member and contributor! He gave far more that he ever received.
I recall appropriately the words written by Allan J. Lerner, the song writer, at the death of his close friend, Maurice Chevalier. He wrote, "I envy the angels." Those of us who were fortunate to have known Ken Welch, will never forget him as a true friend, a dedicated father, and devoted husband and a son and brother. He was also a professional who died at the young age of 33 as he lived--with enormous personal pride and with selfless dedication to his family, to each of those of us with whom he served, and to his nation, for which he gave the ultimate sacrifice.
After a short ceremony at his grave site the flag was folded and presented.
A 21 gun salute was sounded, and TAPS (select on taps player to listen to taps; this rendition of Taps from JFK's funeral, or press TAPS to listen) was played. Take the time to listen to the 21 gun salute (the most sacred honor in the US military) and to taps as it was played as Ken was interred in Arlington National Cemetery.
Click of photo's to enlarge:
These are the folds of a US flag. One should always remember these when they see a folded US flag.
First Fold - The symbol of life.
Second Fold - The belief in eternal life.
Third Fold - The honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks who gave a portion of his/her life for the defense of our country.
Fourth Fold - represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting God, it is to God we turn to in times of peace, as in time of war, for divine guidance.
Fifth Fold - Represents our country; "...still our country right or wrong."
Sixth Fold - Where our hearts lie, account it is with our hearts we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands. One nation under god indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Seventh Fold - Is a tribute to the Armed Forces of our country who protect our country and flag against enemies, within and without the Republic.
Eighth Fold – Is to honor the mother of the veteran.
Ninth Fold - Is to honor American womanhood through their faith, love, loyalty, and devotion to the character of the men and women who they have molded.
Tenth Fold - Is a tribute to fathers, for they too have given their sons and daughters for the defense of the country.
Eleventh Fold - Glorifying the God of the Hebrews of the Old Testament of the Holy Bible.
Twelfth Fold - Glorifying the God of the New Testament, God the father, God the Son, and God the Holy.
After the flag is folded and tucked it resembles a cocked hat which should remind us Americans of the soldiers that served under General George Washington, and also remind us of the sailors and marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones. These great Americans of the Revolutionary War, some the first Americans, and the common soldiers who fought with and under them are our foundation. Our heritage.
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