Twining Marine deployed to Afghanistan
TWINING — With the country’s national security focus shifting heavily towards the war against terrorists in Afghanistan, a surge in troops has been ordered and Corporal Kenneth Ziembo, 19, of Twining, deployed to Afghanistan on May 14, is amongst the men and women in uniform working to end the conflict.
Laura Ziembo, Ken-neth’s mother, says the 2007 Arenac Eastern graduate was returning from an assignment in Thailand, near his permanent duty station of Okinawa, Japan, when he got the news he would be deployed to Afghanistan.
“He had just gotten back to Okinawa probably two weeks ago. … He was actually supposed to be going to Bangladesh when he got back from Thailand but it got changed,” Laura said. “He can’t tell me anything (about where he’s at) until he gets there. I’m hoping it’s not a bad place.
“I don’t ever not think about it.”
Laura says she was scared and worried after hearing the news through a friend of Kenneth and that her son probably tried to break the news to her himself, but due to the radical difference in time between Twining and Okinawa, the call was probably missed.
“He didn’t really break the news, he kind of left me a message on MySpace saying he was on the move and didn’t really have time to talk,” she said.
But prior to the Afghanistan deployment and Thailand assignment, Laura says she made steady contact with Kenneth.
“He called everyday pretty much until he went to Thailand,” she said.
Before enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps, Laura says Kenneth was a “typical teenager” while attending Arenac Eastern.
“He was very sports-oriented. He played baseball, basketball and football. He snowboarded,” she said. “He was a good kid, never in trouble or anything.
“He was kind of cocky growing up, you know, he was the man.”
“Between athletics and a very active school social life, it seemed Kenny was perpetually tired. It was not at all unusual to see seventh hour roll around, and watch Kenny's head slowly descend onto the desk,” said AE teacher Barb Hunter. “One day, after numerous reminders, I decided to take an unconventional approach. I continued talking with the class and walking around the room as I vigorously shook a can of Silly String, attached it to the plastic ‘machine gun’ I'd received as a gag gift from some students the previous fall, and proceeded to wake Kenny up in a fashion unlike any he'd experienced before this. I don't think anyone laughed harder than Kenny, who, better than most could appreciate a well-executed prank!”
“Kenny was a very energetic young man,” said AE Superinten-dent Rocky Aldrich. “I’ve always thought highly of Kenny and, of course, wish him the best.”
And when he decided to join the military, Laura says she was quite shocked.
“We had no military background (in the family) whatsoever,” she said. “He told me about six months before he graduated that this was what he wanted to do and I tried to talk him out of it.
“He actually told me ‘Mom, I’m meant to do this.’ … If he was going to join the military he was going to join the Marines because they were the best and he wanted to be the best,” Laura added. “I’m proud of him and glad that he’s happy, but I’m worried sick.”
Even though his mother admittedly tried to get him to change his mind about the military, she says the changes the enlistment made in her son were welcome.
“He came back very respectful, a whole lot different,” Laura said. “One of his coaches came to me after he came back from boot camp and said he was a different kid.”
“When he came back after basic training to pay a visit to us here at school, the maturity, poise, and command he radiated was palpable,” Hunter said.
Kenneth’s attitude hasn’t only caught the attention of people back home, his work ethic’s also gotten him ahead in the Marine corps.
“He’s already ranked up four times since he’s been there and from what he tells me, in the Marines, that’s pretty good,” Laura said.
While Laura cannot keep in constant contact with Kenneth, or Kenny as he is known around Twining, she did say she had some words for him.
“I basically would tell him to be safe and careful, that I love him and I want him to come back in one piece,” Laura said.
Besides his mother, Kenneth’s family includes sister Ashley Ziembo, 21, stepfather Dave Benjamin, and brothers Travis Benjamin and Dalton Benjamin, 14 and seven years old, respectively.