Saturday, February 17, 2007

Memorial for a Friend

Someday people will know the whole story about the heroic way these soldiers left this planet. If Keith were here today he would say he wasn't being a hero he was just doing his job...but that's the kind of guy he was.

A friend of mine sent me this article that appeared in Alabama newspapers:

Army helicopter pilot remembered as model for others

The Associated Press

FORT RUCKER, Ala. - Army helicopter pilot Keith Yoakum was remembered
as a model for others who fly choppers in combat, protecting ground
troops, as well as a loving father who looked forward to teaching his
daughters to fly.

A memorial service for the 41-year-old chief warrant officer, who died
Feb. 2 in Iraq while conducting combat air patrol, will be held
Tuesday in the main post chapel at Fort Rucker. But recollections of
his military career and his love of his family and flying were
expressed in advance of the service.

"He made us all stand a little taller and be the best that we can be,"
said his older brother, Mark Yoakum. "He wasn't the wind beneath our
wings, but he was our wings."

Keith Yoakum, who lived at Coffee Springs in Geneva County, had moved
to the Wiregrass region from Hemet, Calif. Near his two brothers, the
family bought property and had begun to build a hangar and grass
landing strip.

"He was teaching his daughters (Katelynn, 16, and Kirstee, 14) how to
fly," his wife, Kelly Yoakum, told The Dothan Eagle in a story Monday.
"That was his dream, to own his own grass strip. Flying was his
passion. And he loved his brothers and wanted to do as many things as
possible together."

"He was just such a good man," she said. "He was a very good father.
He was very proud of his daughters and with what little time he had he
tried to give it to them."

His twin brother, Kevin Yoakum, said he has received e-mails from
soldiers around the world expressing condolences and sharing memories.

Rob Williams, who served with Keith Yoakum, said in an e-mail that
"anyone who's been flying Apaches for any length of time either knows
(Yoakum) or knows of him. He's the guy everyone wishes they could be."

He died of wounds suffered when he was forced down in combat
operations at Taji, Iraq. Chief Warrant Officer Jason G. Defrenn, 34,
of Barnwell, S.C., was also killed. They were assigned to the 1st
Battalion, 227th Aviation Cavalry Regiment, 1st Division, at Fort
Hood, Texas.

Yoakum's family said he died doing what he loved.

"I'm glad I came," Yoakum wrote in an e-mail two days before his
death. "I think I make a difference."


Information from: The Dothan Eagle

Rest in Peace Keith and Jason...we'll try and finish the job, save us a spot at the Green.

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