Fort Drum services to honor soldiers killed in Afghanistan copter crash
May 12, 2006
Memorial services have been scheduled in New York by two Fort Drum units after the Pentagon identified the 10 soldiers killed in a Chinook crash last week in Afghanistan. The soldiers were assigned to the 10th Mountain Division’s 71st Cavalry Regiment and the 3rd Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment.
According to the Pentagon, those killed were: Lt. Col. Joseph J. Fenty, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Eric W. Totten, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christopher B. Donaldson, Staff Sgt. Christopher T. Howick, Sgt. Bryan A. Brewster, Sgt. John C. Griffith, Sgt. Jeffery S. Wiekamp, Spc. Justin L. O’Donohoe, Spc. David N. Timmons Jr., and Pfc. Brian M. Moquin Jr.
The soldiers died May 5 when an Army Chinook fell into a ravine during a mountaintop landing in Kunar province, military officials have said. Two memorial services were planned for Thursday and Friday at Fort Drum.
Fenty, 41, of Watertown, N.Y., was 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment commander. Fenty became a commissioned officer in June 1986 after graduating from Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C., according to The Associated Press. He is survived by his wife, a daughter and his parents.
Totten would have turned 35 this week and was on his second tour in Afghanistan, according to the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press.
“I never really worried about him because he was so intelligent and competent and because he wasn’t cocky,” his brother, Noel Totten, told the newspaper. “I worried about the younger ones, the 19- and 20-year-olds, but not Eric.”
Eric Totten joined the Army after high school and had recently been part of the 101st Airborne Division.
“They were always training and promoting him. He was always excited about his next new challenge. They gave him a lot of pats on the back,” Noel Totten said.
Donaldson, 28, a native of Effingham, Ill., was co-pilot of the Chinook, his mother told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“At different times, I’d talk to him and ask him if he loved it, and he said he’d never give it up,” Lynne Donaldson told the paper. “He was going to be a career military man.”
Effingham, a city of about 12,000, had just hosted a parade for 80-plus Army National Guard troops who had returned from Iraq; the town reveled in the fact that none of its troops had been killed on that tour. Two days later, news of Donaldson’s death changed that mood.
“It’s pretty devastating,” Effingham County Board member Don Althoff told the Post-Dispatch. “Most people were relieved that the whole company made it home, and then a couple days later we learned we lost someone.”
Howick, 34, was a native of Hamburg, N.Y. According to the Hamburg Sun, he was a 1990 graduate of Hamburg High School and had recently been assigned to the 10th Mountain Division after serving at Fort Rucker in Alabama.
He is survived by a wife and daughter.
Brewster, from Fontana, Calif., had celebrated his 24th birthday a week before his death. In fact, reported the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Brewster had enlisted shortly after high school and celebrated his 21st birthday in Afghanistan and his 22nd in Iraq.
He had married his high school sweetheart and was the son of the paper’s sports editor.
Brewster’s family remembered him as a “vibrant, fun-loving individual with a sparkling personality and unbeatable charisma.”
Griffith, 33, was a native of Las Vegas. No further information was available as of Thursday.
Wiekamp was a native of South Dakota, but had family in Texas. His wife, Ashley, is currently deployed to Iraq, according to the Houston Chronicle. Wiekamp, 23, enlisted in August 2001 and deployed to Afghanistan in February, military officials said.
O’Donohoe, 27, was a cavalry scout assigned to the 71st.
“I’m a husband. I’m supposed to take care of her, but I can’t do anything to help her tears because they are mixed with mine,” Pat O’Donohoe, Justin’s father, said about his wife in an interview with the News 10 channel in New York.
“He hated sitting around on base. He liked being in the field. He wanted to be out there doing the grown-up summer camp stuff.”
Timmons, 23, was from Lewisville, N.C., and is survived by his parents and sister. According to the Raleigh News & Observer, the last time David Timmons Sr. saw his son was in January, right before his Afghanistan deployment began.
“He shed a few tears, but they were strong tears,” Timmons told the paper. “He understood the game of war.”
“The troops were loading back into the helicopter and somehow, the helicopter lost its hover,” Timmons said he was told by the military. “Somehow, maybe because of the wind, one of the blades hit a tree and the helicopter fell 200 feet.”
Moquin, 19, was a Worcester, Mass., native and was on his first overseas deployment in the Army.
Moquin’s mother, Tracy Vaillancourt, was on a business trip Sunday morning when a cell phone call told her of his death.
“He was too young,” Vaillancourt told the Worcester Telegram and Gazette. “He just wanted to do something to make everybody proud. I’m very proud of him.”