SGT KENNETH B. GENTRY – U.S. ArmyHometown / City: Ringgold, VA
Date of Death: Tuesday, February 26, 1991
Conflict: Operation Desert Storm (Gulf War)
Branch: U.S. Army
Unit: Alpha Troop, 4th Squadron, 7th Cavalry (DIVCAV) – 3d Armored Division
March 3, 2001By DARREN SWEENEY
Register & Bee staff writer
DANVILLE, Va. — Ten years after the end of the Persian Gulf War, area soldiers are taking time to reflect on their experiences on enemy soil as two local families remember lost loved ones. Operation Desert Storm began at 2:38 a.m. Jan. 17, 1991, after Iraqi President Saddam Hussein refused to withdraw his troops from Kuwait. Ground forces began aggressively attacking Iraqi soldiers about a month later. Shortly after the ground attack began, Iraqi soldiers began fleeing Kuwait. On Feb. 27, 1991, former President George Bush ordered a cease-fire effective at midnight Kuwait time. Iraqi leaders formally accepted the cease-fire agreement on March 3, 1991. However, the Army’s “100-Hours War,” as it came to be known was not short enough for two local soldiers. Army Staff Sgt. Kenneth Gentry, of Ringgold, was killed Feb. 26, 1991 when his Bradley tank was struck by a T-72 tank round in southern Iraq. Gentry was a gunner on the Bradley tank. While Aileen and Howard Gentry were watching President Bush’s speech about the cease-fire, they had no idea their son would not be coming home. “My son was already dead and we didn’t know it,” Aileen Gentry said.
Kenneth Gentry’s wife, Annette, found out about her husband’s death on March 1, 1991, while she was waiting for him at a military base in Germany. “She (Annette) called her mother in Clarksville and told her to come tell us and not to call us,” recalls Aileen Gentry. “It’s just like it was yesterday.”
Keith Gentry, Kenneth’s brother, performs an annual rite in honor of his brother, lowering the American flag at midnight Feb. 26 from the flagpole next to his mother’s house and raising it again at noon March 9. Feb. 26 marks the day Kenneth Gentry was killed and March 9 signifies the day he was buried in Danville. “It (the flag) sits halfway now,” Aileen Gentry said.
Gentry was 32 years old at the time of his death and was survived by his wife, the former Annette Compton and children Ian, now 14, and Lauren, now 11. “She (Lauren) says real often ‘Momma, I never knew my dad, I wish I knew my dad,'” Aileen Gentry said. “You still have to go on, whether you want to or not,” she added.