CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan --
Originally from Kingstown, Jamaica, Master Sgt. Mark A. Kennedy has been surrounded by musical talent since he was born. His grandfather and uncles played instruments with local musicians, and his mother and brother are natural-born singers. Kennedy says his own singing abilities are his ‘God-given talent.’
Kennedy, who enlisted out of Pontiac, Mich., is currently deployed as an administration chief with 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward). During his deployment, he has used his voice to reach out to other troops at weekly services at the Camp Leatherneck chapel.
Recently, his involvement with the chapel gave him a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Kennedy was offered the chance to sing the national anthem at the memorial for the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
“Knowing there were so many people in the audience who had family members that died on 9/11 or who lost friends in Iraq and Afghanistan, I wanted to give everything to my performance,” Kennedy said. “To be standing there singing the national anthem, which so many people have given their lives for, made it so special for me.”
His talents have opened other doors for him, as well. Stationed in Japan in 1996, Kennedy and some others went into a Japanese community and sang gospel music for the local citizens.
“It just kind of broke down the language barriers,” Kennedy said. “They couldn’t understand the words, but because of the music, they were very interested. They said they had never heard music like that before. It was phenomenal.”
It is this passion for reaching out and touching others that Kennedy says will be a constant in his life, even after he retires from the Marine Corps.
He said, “I want to keep giving my gift back and inspiring others.”