2017 Scholarship Recipient
Name: Private First Class Bufford K. (“Kenny”) VanSlyke
Branch: United States Marine Corps (June 11, 2006 – February 28, 2007) Company B, 1st Battalion, 24th Marines, 4th Marine Division. Deployed in 2007 with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom
KIA: February 28, 2007
Kaiden K. VanSlyke, the son of Private First Class Bufford (“Kenny”) VanSlyke and Kortni (Morse) Vanslyke, is the Corporal Christopher Kelly Willis Foundation’s 2017 Scholarship Recipient. Through the generosity of our corporate sponsors and individual sponsors, Kaiden will receive a future-use college scholarship intended to cover the entire unmet need of his college tuition and expenses.
Kenny VanSlyke of the United States Marine Corps was killed in action barely two months after he was deployed to Iraq. On December 20, 2006, PFC Vanslyke’s company was sent to Al Fallujah, where Kenny served as a rifleman. On February 28, 2007, PFC VanSlyke was shot and killed at a checkpoint station in Anbar Province, Iraq, by sniper firing from an elevated position. Kaiden was only five months old.
PFC VanSlyke is the son of Cindy and stepfather Bill Fisher, of Bay City, Michigan and Keith and stepmother Tricia VanSlyke, of Nine Mile Falls, Washington. He was raised in Oak Harbor, Washington, where he attended Oak Harbor Schools until his junior year when his family moved to California and later to Bay City, Michigan. Kenny worked as an electrician and construction worker, and refereed high-school football games.
He was known for his great attitude, an infectious laugh, and a grin that could disarm angry coaches during a football game. Kenny met Kortni Morse in 2004, they married and Kenny joined the United States Marine Corps in June of 2006 not only in order to make a better life for his family, but also out of a sense of duty and honor. VanSlyke’s mother and stepfather both served in the Navy and his father continues to serve in the United States Air Force; Kenny knew clearly what life in the military meant. Kenny and Kortni’s son, Kaiden was born on September 29, 2006, in Bay City, Michigan, where he still lives with his mom, Kortni. He is now ten years old and is big brother to his sister, Jaylei.
Kaiden Kenneth VanSlyke is a charismatic and sometimes serious boy who loves to play football, read and hang out with his family. He enjoys school and has many friends. Kaiden hopes to follow in his father’s shoes by becoming a Marine, along with dreams of playing football for the University of Michigan.
PFC VanSlyke made the ultimate sacrifice and is a true American Hero. We are proud to honor his memory during this year’s Warrior Ride and appreciate your support in securing a future with his son, Kaiden.
To learn more about how you can support our efforts to honor this fallen soldier, please visit our donation page.