|From New Jersey nj.com
Army Spc. Michael A. Hook, August 22, 2007
Published: Tuesday, August 28, 2007, 6:06 PM Updated: Thursday, November 08, 2007, 2:26 PM
By Beverly M. Reid
Hometown: Little Egg Harbor
Circumstances: Died from injuries suffered in a helicopter crash in Multaka, Iraq
The Star-Ledger Archive
COPYRIGHT © The Star-Ledger 2007
Black Hawk crash is felt across U.S.
Iraq casualties include regular Jersey visitor
By CHERYL WITTENAUER
Onetime New Jersey resident Michael Hook couldn't wait to get back to the States to be with his pregnant fiancee. Ricky Bell was due to fly home in less than a month. Nathan Hubbard came from a family of soldiers that already had lost one son to the war.
The three were among 14 U.S. soldiers aboard a Black Hawk helicopter when it crashed Wednesday in northern Iraq. The military said it appeared the aircraft was lost due to mechanical problems. There were no survivors.
The 14 came from across the country: California, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington. Some were based in Hawaii, others in Washington state.
The military did not immediately release their names, but family members and friends have offered glimpses into some of their lives.
Hook, an Altoona, Pa., resident who spent his summers at the Jersey Shore, had been in Iraq for almost a year on his first tour, said his father, Larry Hook of Little Egg Harbor. Michael Hook was the 81st service member with ties to New Jersey to be killed in Iraq.
"He died doing what he wanted to do," Larry Hook told the Altoona Mirror in yesterday's editions. "But it's been pretty devastating."
Hook's body was scheduled to arrive at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware today, which would have been his 26th birthday.
After graduating from high school in Altoona in 2001, Hook went to live with his father and stepmother, Belinda, for over a year in Little Egg Harbor. While in the southern Ocean County township, he did odd jobs, Belinda Hook said.
He returned to Altoona and continued to live with his mother, MaryAnn Hook, but spent summers with his father and stepmother, who have been residents of Little Egg Harbor for 20 years.
After being dispatched to Iraq last August, he returned to Altoona in January for a two-week leave, Brenda Hook said. Hook's son, tentatively named Mason, is expected next month. The soldier and his fiancee, Suzie Fetterman of Altoona, were planning an October wedding.
"He was your typical all-American kid," Belinda Hook said. "He was a good kid. He loved the Army and was going to make a career of it."
"It was his dedication that I remember," said Phil Riccio, Hook's former football coach at Altoona Area High School.
Bell, 21, was due to come home to Caruthersville, Mo., on leave Sept. 13, his aunt, Glenda Overbey, told the Associated Press. He had been in Iraq since June, where he turned 21.
"I knew him when he was a little boy," said J.J. Bullington, his former middle school principal. "I taught him swimming. This is a real small community of about 7,000. Everybody knows each other."
For Hubbard's family in Clovis, Calif., the 21-year-old's death was the second tragedy from the war, the Fresno Bee reported. One of his brothers, Marine Lance Cpl. Jared Hubbard, was killed by a roadside bomb in Ramadi in 2004.
A third brother, Jason Hubbard, will be returning home from Iraq to be with his family, said Clovis police spokeswoman Janet Stoll-Lee.
Garrett Ian McLead, 23, was a surfer from Rockport, Texas, who was on his second tour in the Middle East and looked forward to coming home in October, said Rockport Police Chief Tim Jayroe, a family friend who was asked to speak on the family's behalf yesterday.
The helicopter's two pilots and two flight crew members were based at Fort Lewis in Washington state, base spokesman David Kuhns said.
They had just picked up the other troops after a mission when the Black Hawk crashed, said Lt. Col. Michael Donnelly, a military spokesman in northern Iraq. The soldiers the Black Hawk was ferrying were based at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, according to a statement by Col. Timothy M. Ryan, rear detachment commander of the 25th Infantry Division.
Capt. Corry Paul Tyler of Puyallup, Wash., was identified as one of the crew members by pastor William Warnock, who spoke for the family in an interview with KING Television of Seattle.
Josh Harmon, 20, of Mentor-on-the-Lake, Ohio, about 25 miles northeast of Cleveland, was a combat medic in the Army, said Tim Serazin, a lieutenant at the nearby Willoughby Hills Fire Department, where Harmon's father, Richard, serves as chief.
Earlier this year, Harmon married a woman he had met while training in Hawaii, Serazin said.
Phillip J. Brodnick's death was announced by Burbank, Ill., Mayor Harry Klein during a village board meeting Wednesday night, the Daily Southtown newspaper of Tinley Park reported.
The 27-year-old's father is a police officer there, Burbank Police Chief Bruce Radowicz said.
Jessy Pollard, 21, of Springfield, Mo., died doing something he believed in, said his stepfather, Alan Dewitt. "He was fighting for our American freedoms that we enjoy," Dewitt told the Springfield News-Leader. "After high school, he really got into wanting to do that. He prayed about it a lot before he joined."
Also killed were: Chief Warrant Officer Paul J. Flynn, 28, a native of Gibsonville, N.C.; Capt. Derek Dobogai, 26, of Fond du Lac, Wisc.; Cpl. Jeremy P. Bouffard, 21, Middlefield, Mass.; Sgt. Matthew L. Tallman, 30, of Groveland, Calif.; Spc. Tyler R. Seideman, 20, Lincoln, Ark.; and Staff Sgt. Jason L. Patton, 25, of Poway, Calif.