Enter             Enter          Enter               Enter 


Back to Bob Johnson





























































This page is dedicated to the memory of Kenneth V. Welch.  Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 23, 1951 and killed in a terrorist attack on the embassy annex in Beirut, Lebanon on September 20, 1984. 

Kenneth Welch was killed while serving active duty with the United States Army as a Chief Warrant Officer II assigned to the United States Embassy (annex), Beirut, Lebanon.

       He is interred with other American heroes in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia  

       Section 59 grave 529

His head stone reads:

Kenneth V. Welch


US Army



May 23, 1951

Sept. 20, 1984

Belgium  Iran




Photo of Kenneth Welch 1972

Photo contributed by Michael Welch

Kenneth V Welch was a great Son, and a wonderful Brother.

He was the Father of two sons who were 6 and 8 years old when he was killed.

The story of his death

On September 20, 1984 they took Ken Welch from the world in a hit on the US Embassy.  An expert testified that the Iran funded group Hezboulla had incorporated and infiltrated construction workers while the embassy annex was being constructed.  Hezbollah took those plans to the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon and practiced the entrance in a bomb filled vehicle to the embassy many times.  The plan more than likely was practiced before Kenneth V. Welch even arrived in Lebanon.

U.S. Embassy Annex, Beirut, Lebanon

After the bombing September 20, 1984

Here is the description of the killing of Kenneth  Welch from the book Sacred Rage: The Wrath of Militant Islam by Robin Wright. 



    Beirut, Lebanon (AP) - Lebanese state and private radios reported an explosion Thursday at the East Beirut annex of the U.S. Embassy.  Lebanon's state radio said the explosion was in the building and may have started a fire...                   Associated Press, Thursday, September 20, 1984

    Chief Warrant Officer Kenneth Welch had been in Lebanon less than four months working as an operations coordinator in the office of the Defense Intelligence Agency.  With the bulk of the embassy staff, he had moved to the annex less than two months earlier-for security reasons.  Christian-controlled East Beirut was considered safer than the Muslim west, where all the earlier attacks and kidnappings had taken place.

     Welch was typing a report at his desk on the third floor shortly before noon that Thursday when a cream colored Chevrolet van maneuvered past a concrete dragon's-teeth barricade and several Lebanese guards at the cordoned entrance road leading to the annex.  Welch appears to have stood up after hearing guards fire shots at the van.  He was not fast enough.  The force of the two-thousand-pound load of explosives blew the tall, solidly built officer against the wall.  His neck snapped.

     Thirteen others  also died.  More than thirty were injured.  "We are not against the American people," said a young member of the Shi'ite "Party of God" two weeks later.  "We are against oppression and injustice.  The fire of Islam will burn those who are responsible for these practices [against Islam].  We have been dominated by the U.S. government and others for too long."  A leading Shi'ite academic put it another way: "The extreme expression of fundamentalism are expressions of despair."                                    

                                                                .                    .                     .

Two GREENISH-BLACK STONE PLAQUES listing in gold letters the names and dates of 143 U.S. diplomats killed in the line of duty hang in the lobby of the State Department Building in Washington.  The first plaque begins in 1780, with the name of a diplomat lost at sea, and ends in 1967.  The second plaque has almost been filled in eighteen years, as diplomats have increasingly become victims of terrorism.  As of the spring of 1985, when this book went through final revisions, four of the last five people whose names were added to the plaque had died at the hands of Shia extremist.  The names of Ken Welch and another military attaché who died in the second embassy bombing in Beirut, and two U.S. Agency of International Development envoys killed in the hijacking of a Kuwaiti plane to Tehran, were added in a ceremony in May.  A third plaque is already being planned.  


September 20, 1984, was a steamy Mediterranean day, calm by Beirut standards.  Kenny Rogers, a big strapping Scot doing temporary duty in Beirut, was standing guard in the parking lot of the American Embassy annex in Christian East Beirut, waiting for British Ambassador David Miers to conclude a courtesy call on his counterpart, Reginald Bartholomew.  A royal military policeman, Rogers was part of the beefed-up security team for British diplomats.

     Guard duty seemed much easier in the Christian sector, which had witnessed comparatively few vicious attacks so frequent in the Muslim-dominated west over the previous three years.  The site added to the psychology.  Aukar is a quiet residential suburb of hillside villas and luxury apartments built along winding little roads, facing the sea.  Unlike most other parts of the capital, Aukar was unscarred by a decade of war.  But the British ambassador's three bodyguards still had to be on alert at the beige tile-and -concrete annex, where the majority of U.S diplomats had been rebased just two months.

     As he waited near Mier's armored Minster sedan, Roger's attention was drawn to the end of the cordoned road in front of the annex. "I looked along the road and saw a light-colored Chevrolet van with diplomatic plates," he recalled the next day.  "There seemed to be an argument going on between the gate guard and the vehicle.  There was a shot fired by the man in the van.  The van accelerated down the road in the direction of the embassy [annex].  One of the other guards fired, possibly three rounds, at the van.  By this time the van was almost parallel to me."

     Then he realized exactly what was about to happen, the greatest fear of foreigners in Lebanon: a bomb-laden vehicle was heading straight for the entrance of a diplomatic facility. "I fired five rounds through the door," Rogers said.  "I saw the driver fall over.  As he fell over, he pulled the steering wheel to the right.  The vehicle slid sideways and hit the American van [parked] at the side."  Then it blew up.

And so, Ken was gone.  In this book it mentions that the action of Rogers, and a Lebanese guard saved many lives and perhaps two ambassadors. 

The heroics of Rogers and a Lebanese guard, who the Americans claimed actually fired the crucial shots, prevented the van, with its three thousand pounds of explosive, from getting within ten yards of the front door-and what an American colonel supervising the aftermath estimated would have been a death toll five times greater.  Fourteen were killed, only two of them Americans, and dozen injured.

The "only two" Americans who died were: 

Chief Warrant Officer II Kenneth V. Welch, US Army

Chief Petty Officer Michael Wagner, US Navy


He has left a hole in the Welch family.  It is my personal opinion that terrorism rips the fabric of America, and the world.  The family.  Kenneth Welch's killing at the hand of Islamic extremist was a direct hit on the entire Welch family.  

We should all remember those who fell at the hands of  terrorist, and we should vow to defeat not just the evil people who perpetrate the crime, but destroy the thinking that encourages it.  We should pursue the countries, and organizations that support and fund terrorism.

We should never forget our heroes


                                                           Web Administrator Gerard A. Welch