Time of Remembrance

Buford K. Van Slyke




Bay City, Ca.

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As a kid, Bufford "Kenny" VanSlyke's smile could get him out of a pickle. As a football referee, his grin would disarm angry coaches.
Amid the gunfire of Iraq, however, Kenny VanSlyke was up against it. He would laugh even in adversity, but he was scared when he called home just after Christmas.
U.S. Marine Pfc. VanSlyke, 22, of Bay City, died after being shot Tuesday night in Fallujah. He leaves behind his wife, Kortni (Morse) VanSlyke, and their 4-month-old son, Kaiden. "He always had that smile on his face, and it could brighten up a room," said his mother, Cindy L. Fisher, 44, of Bay City.
Family members said a sniper firing from an elevated position struck VanSlyke in the shoulder, and the bullet exited through his lower back, according to a Marine gunnery sergeant. VanSlyke arrived in Iraq in mid-December, and the first time he called home, Cindy Fisher heard gunshots in the background.
"Kenny was scared," Cindy Fisher said. "He wouldn't tell me that, because he was always trying to be strong for me. But he told his dad and his brothers. "His biggest fear was that he wouldn't be able to come home and see his family. He loved that baby so much. Kenny's face just lit up when he talked to that baby, and that baby's face would light up, too. "He knew who his daddy was."

Cindy Fisher said her son "had an awesome spirit - he was my daredevil, and he would try anything. Kenny VanSlyke worked for a number of years as a referee at high-school football games, and looked forward to referee work again this fall after returning from Iraq,

"We understand the reasoning, that God had a plan for Kenny, and although we don't always agree with his plans, our faith is still there," Bill Fisher said. "We are there to protect the freedom of the United States, and Kenny gave his life in protecting that freedom. The people in the area here may not agree with the reasons we're over there, but Kenny was a true Marine."
Survivors also include his father and stepmother, Keith D. and Tricia VanSlyke, of Spokane, Wash., his brother, Keith VanSlyke, of Spokane, Wash.; his half brother, Nate Fisher of Bay City; and his half sisters, twins Gini and Bobbi Fisher of Bay City.