'I felt like he was a genuine human being' says sister of slain - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

'I felt like he was a genuine human being' says sister of slain Marine after meeting president

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Sgt. Kenneth B. May Jr. (Source: Family) Sgt. Kenneth B. May Jr. (Source: Family)
Challenge Coin given to Kalynne Aarick Challenge Coin given to Kalynne Aarick
Sgt. Kenneth B. May Jr., Source: Family Sgt. Kenneth B. May Jr., Source: Family

A small coin is helping an East Texas woman continue to heal after her brother was killed in Afghanistan.

"He was a really great guy. He loved playing the guitar, he loved leading his small Bible school studies in California," says Kalynne Arrick as she remembers her brother, Sgt. Kenneth B. May, Jr.

Kalynne and her husband, Allen Arrick, have a shelf in their home dedicated to Kenneth. It holds a flag flown over the White House in his honor, a scrapbook Kalynne made Kenneth when he joined the Marines, and a letter President Obama sent her family after Kenneth's death.

"The only thing that I take comfort in knowing is that he was here and he was in Heaven. There was no in between, no pain, no anything like that," says Kalynne.

Kalynne is still healing, which is why a recent encounter with President Obama in Denver touched her heart.

"I have a lot of emotions when it comes to President Obama. He was my brother's commander-in-chief," Kalynne says.

"We were just excited to see his motorcade drive by. When we realized he was going to be coming to the restaurant, it was like, well, what do we do, do we get a picture with him shake his hand?" says Allen Arrick.

"When he walked through the front door, I was the only person that didn't have a cell phone in his face. He walked right up to me and stuck his hand out and asked me my name," says Kalynne.

Kalynne told President Obama about her brother. After a short conversation, he handed her a Challenge coin in honor of Kenneth's service.

"It felt really personal. It wasn't a loud conversation we had. He kind of took me under his arms to speak to me privately and it was barely audible by anyone standing near us," Kalynne says.

"We all have our opinions about the president, but at that moment I felt like he was a genuine human being who really made a difference," says Allen.

The president gave Kalynne one more way to remember the love and respect people have for her brother. He told Kalynne he gives the coins to veterans and active duty military members. The president told her the Challenge coin is a gift to Kenneth to thank him for his service and sacrifice.

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