Neighbors hope to dedicate corner to Neponset 'hero'

Neponset Avenue and McKone Street is not just another corner to Jimmy King. It's the corner his son Army Private Kevin J. King left behind his childhood to serve his country.

At 19, Kevin was killed during training exercises as he prepared to deploy for Iraq last April. Those close to him hope to dedicate that corner as a Hero Square in his memory. The first step will likely take place this week, when City Council President Maureen Feeney proposes the resolution to initiate the square during the council session.

"It's overwhelming. It just goes to show how many people loved this kid," said King of the support.

"Soon as he got out of high school, he made up his mind, you know, 'I'm going to go serve my country,'" King said. Kevin's desire to serve in the armed forces is a familiar sentiment in his family. Michael, Kevin's twin brother, is stationed in the Navy at Norfolk, Virginia, and his younger brother, Ricky, 18, plans to go to the Army in July.

Kevin was "really laid back, well liked, good sense of humor," said Phil Carver, president of the Pope's Hill Civic Association and long-time friend of the King family. A native of Dorchester, Kevin moved to Plymouth with his mother after his parents divorced, but King said he loved coming back to the neighborhood on weekends and during the summer. His father remembers a boy who was straight-edged, a bit of a prankster, and always there when someone needed a hand. He took up plumbing and HVAC as a trade in high school and focused on the present, King said.

Carver is facilitating the memorial for the young man he described as "a really sweet kid" who loved the movie Boondock Saints, macaroni and cheese, and the Pope's Hill's annual block party. Kevin helped setting up for the block party that draws a crowd of 250-300 every year, said Carver. He remembered that summer before Kevin left for training he went to the event and "he was the first in line to get on the pony."

Ever since he was a little kid he loved the event, so provided that Wednesday's resolution is passed, Carver and Kevin's father would like to see the dedication ceremony fall on the day of this year's block party, June 21. At this point, however, they are just hoping to get the process started.

"We'll see, we're finding out what our options are," said Carver.

The last Hero Square dedication in Dorchester was in memory of Army Corporal Edgardo Zayas, who was killed in 2006 in Iraq. There are about 1,300 hero squares in Boston, some from as far back as the Spanish-America War, according to Justin Holmes, a spokesman for President Feeney.

Other steps include determining the specific intersection with the Veterans Affairs department, installing a sign, and scheduling a time for the dedication. The Hero Square, which is co-sponsored by Councillor John Connolly, aims to be "a lasting tribute," said Holmes, "and a sign of how important their sacrifice is to Dorchester."

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