September 15, 1971 – August 2, 2007

Few people accomplish everything they set out to do; even fewer succeed by their mid-thirties. Major Christopher M. J. Kennedy is among those very few.

Raised in Kansas and Arkansas, Christopher Michael James Kennedy (the title ‘Major’ was added many years after) was enamored by all things military as many young boys are. But Chris was not to follow the path that most boys would take as their infatuations with camouflage and machine guns wane in light of high school girlfriends, sports, and college. Rather, Chris attained one of the highest honors to be had by any 17 year-old, an appointment to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.

An avid reader throughout his childhood, Chris studied History at the Academy and would later return to his alma mater for a brief professorship. He graduated in 1994 and accepted a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. Upon completion of The Basic School, he continued his military education at flight school, earning his ‘Wings of Gold’ and a post as Navigator and Electronic Counter-Measures Officer aboard EA-6B Prowlers.

After completing his Fleet tour of duty, Captain Kennedy returned to the Naval Academy and served as a professor and Academy drill team commander until 2003. He “retired” into the Marine reserves and briefly entered civilian life for a few weeks. The call of duty was too strong, though, and he answered that call with a tour in Iraq as a war historian, documenting Marine activities in the War on Terror. It was a tour that fulfilled his sense of obligation to his country and satisfied his deep passion for historical study. Chris’ tour in Iraq was followed by a deployment to Haiti, and finally a shore post in Germany. He was promoted to Major in 2004.

Even more than his military accolades, Chris loved people and people loved Chris. In his wake he left a trail of friends deeply touched by his loyalty, humor, intelligence and candor. More than a few were introduced to a vivid faith in Jesus Christ that Chris held deep in his heart. Faithful to the end, he was his sister’s hero, his parents’ pride, and the embodiment of true, unconditional friendship.

Major Christopher M. J. Kennedy, USMCR is survived by his parents, Vick and Pat Kennedy of Georgetown TX, his sister Sarah Kennedy Munsell, and quite literally hundreds of friends and loved ones whom he charmed and challenged, and were changed just by knowing him.

Those were the words written by my wonderful husband, a genius with words. My brother was my confidant, best friend, soul mate, the list goes on. We were closer than most any other siblings I know. God blessed us with this incredible connection, one that I am forever blessed to have had.

Chris was brilliant. To express his personality and brilliance with words is hard to do. You would’ve just had to know him.

With brilliance often comes bouts of depression. My brother was not immune. On August 2, 2007, in the midst of one of these battles, he took his own life. I feel it is very important to share this with others. Suicide has an extremely intense stigma attached to it in our society. Survivors of suicide (“survivors” are those who are left behind) often try to cover up what actually happened, or live in denial of the truth. I refuse to do so. It inhibits the grieving process and furthers the needless stigma.

Surviving suicide is one of the hardest deaths to survive, if not the hardest. I want to tell this story and dispense facts about suicide to help fellow survivors, hopefully stop someone from attempting suicide and do my part to rid our society of the stigma. Please visit my page on suicide facts for help with your own grief, feelings of suicide or if you are a person interested in knowing more about this epidemic.

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8 Responses to “My Brother Chris”

  1. Michelle Says:

    Sarah,
    I am SO sorry to hear about this. I am praying for you and your family as I know that grief is not a short thing.

  2. Bill Hutson Says:

    Sarah, deep and belated condolences. I met Chris in the Marines. I just found out about his death today. Would you please email me; I would like to learn more. Did I miss something in the conversations we had (post Iraq, 2003-2004 ish), etc. Thank you.

  3. irishanglican Says:

    RIP Chris M.J. Kennedy!

    May God in Christ be so very real for all of you in your loss.

    ‘Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side;
    bear patiently the cross of grief and pain;
    leave to your God to order and provide;
    in every change he faithful will remain.
    Be still, my soul: your best, your heavenly friend through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

    “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arms, and carry them in his bosom.” Isaiah 40:11

    Very Sincerely In Christ,
    Fr. Robert (Anglican)
    * One time Royal Marine officer, Gulf War 1, plus.

  4. Melissa Hankins Says:

    Sara, I don’t know if you remember me. I dated Chris back in 93. I was trying to reconnect with old friends and came across this. I am so sorry for you loss. I can not belive that this has happened. I truly love him and there will always be a place in my heart for him. I wish that we would have met when I was a little older maybe we would have been together. I don’t think he was ever happy after we split. He was so kind to me and my family. I still have the bible that he gave me for christmas one year. I will now treasure that forever. Please tell your mom I said hello and my deepest condolences to you and yours. I still have a lot of pictures of him from when he was in the academy if you would like I could send you copies. Please feel free to email me.

    Melissa Sayles (Hankins)

  5. Andrew Chacko Says:

    Sarah – I just learned of Chris’ passing. I don’t even know what to say. Chris was a great friend of mine at USNA. We were among the original members of the drill team – which we both love dearly. It gave our lives much meaning. I sold Chris my car when I graduated. I hadn’t intended on selling it – he just asked me to – so I said okay. And feeling that I hadn’t gotten it ready for him – I took it to the shop to have a few hundred dollars of work done on it – leaving the keys and a note in his mailbox at school. Then I left for my best assignment (to study French in France) – only to return 4 and a half months later to find Chris had sicked NCIS on me – thinking I had fled the country, absconding with his partial payment. After a harrowing few days and a lot of laughs later – we cleared the whole mess up. He still owes me $600 for the car – a debt I am sad I will no longer be able to bug him about, but am happy to chock up as a small price to pay for a great friend. Please pass my deepest condolences to your family. Ironically I am now a psychiatry resident serving soldiers at Tripler – I just wish I could have been there for him.

  6. Andrew Chacko Says:

    I failed to mention – mail at USNA gets notoriously lost over the summer – which is why Chris never got my note or his keys. 😦

  7. Pat Kaufmann Says:

    I am very sorry to hear of Chris’ passing – I just found out recently. We served together as Moondogs in 1998/1999 and deployed to Japan as junior officers. We had a lot of fun the year we served at VMAQ-3. Chris had a passion for service and he loved the Marine Corps. One of the things that stood out to me was his love to teach history – he had taught a history college course to our Marines while deployed and he earned one of the few coveted C-9 seats to visit Iwo Jima in order to pass his knowledge on to our enlisted staff who were there with him. I will sadly miss him and I also wish I could have been there for him. Semper Fi Chris! Your friend, Pat Kaufmann

  8. Dave Jenkins Says:

    I met Chris (and his friend Conan) in 1990, at a youth hostel in Luxemburg. I had the intense pleasure of travelling with him for the next 10 days; Luxembourg City, Trier, Aachen. His excitement and enthusiasm, zest for life was infectious. Being 17 years his elder, I was drawn back to the joy of youth, looking forward to new adventures. I learned about Patton, the 101st Airborne, Bastogne, and not least about Charlemagne, one of his hero’s at the time. Over the intervening years and after a few letters exchanged, we lost touch; kids, jobs, moving, divorce. I tried to locate him a few times without success. Unfortunately, I eventually found him through this site. I am still shocked these many years later. As a survivor of a suicide attempt at 17, I know the depths of despair and and overwhelming sadness that can lead to the intense desire to end the pain. While I am glad I didn’t succeed now that I look back, I would gladly have traded my success with Chris. Even now, I picture his glowing smile as he is eating peaches from a can, wearing his beret, walking from the cathedral in Luxembourg City, on to a new adventure. I know with certainty he is walking streets of gold and he is unfettered by the chains that held him. I look forward to the day I can again share a can of peaches with him. Love you man, Brother Dave

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