Local decorated soldier, Army Staff Sgt. Wade Bennett, killed in Afghanistan


Army Staff Sgt. Wade Bennett was deployed for his last mission there in September. A few weeks before he was called up, his family and friends gathered at his parents' home in Glendora for a party.

"I asked him about going back and I said, 'Do you want to go back again Wade?' And he said, 'If they tell me to go back, it's what I do,' and that's the kind of guy he was," said Bob Jennings, a family friend.

Wade was a soldier trained to disable the enemy's lethal handmade bombs, much like the main character in the movie "The Hurt Locker." But on Saturday, Bennett was killed by an improvised explosive device, or IED.

Bennett, who was based at joint base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, was awarded numerous medals for his service.

Kathleen Gonzales volunteers with Project Glendora Yellow Ribbon along with Bennett's mother. They raise money to hang banners of all the local service men and women in their community. She heard the news from a family friend.

"I came over and gave Nancy a hug and she asked that we go to the Field of Valor and put flowers by his flag," Gonzales said.

On Monday, Bennett's banner was placed along a Glendora street, and there was one outside his family home, paying tribute to a young man who was a son, husband and father with another child on the way.

In the midst of the tragedy, the tight-knit community came together to pay their respects to a fallen soldier and reminded his family that he did not die in vain.

"These men and women are out there fighting everyday and working to save our country and give us freedom," said neighbor Matt Zern.

"Wade's a hero," Jennings added as his eyes dampened. "Here comes the crying part, because he'll always be our hero."

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