Charles Edward Wyckoff, Jr.
Sergeant, United States Army
RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
No. 729-07 IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 11, 2007
Media Contact: (703) 697-5131/697-5132
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Sergeant Charles E. Wyckoff Jr., 28, of Chula Vista, California, died June 6, 2007, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered from enemy small arms fire.He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
For more information related to this release
the media may contact the 82nd Airborne Division public affairs office
at (910) 432-0661.
A former Chula Vista High School track star whose love of aviation led him to join the Army's Special Forces died Wednesday in Afghanistan.
Sergeant Charles Edward Wyckoff Jr., 28, was shot by small-arms fire in the country's Helmand province, the Pentagon announced yesterday. A few days earlier, he had evacuated from a helicopter that insurgents downed with a rocket-propelled grenade.
Wyckoff was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.
His mother, Sylvia Wyckoff of Alameda, said her son's death is one of several blows she has suffered in the past year. She said her fiance committed suicide in front of her, an ex-boyfriend was slain in Imperial Beach and her sister died in November.
Sylvia Wyckoff said she sensed that something bad would happen to her son after a conversation they had about three weeks ago.
“He said, 'Mom, I'm getting scared. The war is getting worse.' As a mom, I was speechless. I started crying. He said, 'Mom, don't worry. I want you to be healthy when I get home,' ” Sylvia Wyckoff said yesterday at her daughter's home in San Ysidro. Several relatives from Chula Vista had joined them there in mourning.
Wyckoff enlisted with the Army last year and left Fort Bragg in January for his first deployment.
“My son was only in Afghanistan for six months and he's already gone,” Sylvia Wyckoff said.
A native of Chula Vista, Wyckoff attended Harborside Elementary, Chula Vista Junior High and Chula Vista High School, where he graduated in 1996.
His family was especially proud of his college education. He attended San Francisco State and then transferred to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Arizona, where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in aeronautical science.
Wyckoff was the only member of his household to graduate from college, his aunt Tina Perez said.
“He was a winner in our family,” she added. “He was the good one. All of our nephews were in prison. He never got into gangs, he never got into drugs.”
Wyckoff's relatives said aviation was his passion.
“If a plane was flying over,” Perez said, “he would be able to identify it.”
After earning his college degree, Wyckoff sought to join the Army so he could eventually become a Green Beret. In case that plan didn't work out, he also applied for a job with the U.S. Border Patrol.
“The day after he enlisted in the Army, the Border Patrol called him,” Perez said.
Two days before Wyckoff's loved ones heard news of his death, they received a video he sent from Afghanistan. The footage featured members of his unit and showed the area where they lived. It also included a tribute to Wyckoff's wife of two years, Erika, who is living at Fort Bragg and could not be reached for comment.
In his video, Wyckoff arranged desert flowers to spell out the sentence, 'I love you.' He also wrote 'Charles loves Erika' on a rock.
“Two days later, he was gone,” Perez said.
Wyckoff will be buried Friday at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. His family also plans to hold a memorial service at 11 a.m. June 23 at Victory Outreach Church, 4235 National Ave. in San Diego.
Besides his mother and aunt, survivors include Wyckoff's two stepchildren; his father, Eddie Charles Wyckoff; and his sister, Alina Perez.
Yesterday afternoon, Alina Perez sat in her mobile home and reflected on her brother's death.
“I was praying that he would come home,” she
said. “But I also had to accept the possibility that he wouldn't.
Mourners Honor a Soldier With a Thirst for Challenges
By Mark Berman
Courtesy of the Washington Post
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Army Sergeant Charles E. Wyckoff was a soldier's soldier, a gentleman with a noble heart and a hero, according to his wife. He didn't take the easy route, choosing to enlist in the Army as an infantryman despite the fact that he could have entered as an officer. He wanted to gain the respect of those with whom he would serve.
Wyckoff, 28, was killed June 6, 2007, in the
Helmand province of Afghanistan, by enemy small-arms fire.
Yesterday, more than 80 mourners gathered beneath a cloudy sky on an unseasonably cool morning to honor the Chula Vista, Calif., native as he was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. Wyckoff's wife, Erika, was presented with a folded American flag, as were his parents, Sylvia and Edward Wyckoff.
Sylvia leaned over her flag in tears, while Edward pulled his close, embracing it tightly as he wiped his eyes.
"I am very proud of Charlie and understand his sacrifice," Erika Wyckoff said in a statement. "He was a man that you could lean on, depend on and trust. He was a hero. He was my Superman."
Wyckoff was born and raised in Chula Vista, and he graduated from Chula Vista High School in 1996. His penchant for athletics stretched from the high school's cross-country and track teams to running track and field at San Francisco State University. He went on to attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona, where he met and fell in love with his future wife.
"He was a winner in our family," his aunt, Tina Perez, told The San Diego Union-Tribune. "He was the good one. All of our nephews were in prison. He never got into gangs, he never got into drugs."
Perez said that Wyckoff's real passion was aviation, whether it related to work or his personal life. "If a plane was flying over, he would be able to identify it," she said.
Wyckoff enlisted in the Army with ambitions to become a warrant officer and attend flight school, his wife said in her statement. His degree would have allowed him to enter the Army as an officer, but he chose to enlist as an infantryman in order to gain respect, which she believes he easily accomplished.
"He was like a brother to his guys," she said in the statement. "He didn't think twice when it came time to do his job. He had a noble heart."
She described Wyckoff as a true gentleman who was always there to open doors for her. He was also accepting of her and her two children, "something that you don't see often these days," she said. His stepchildren, Joshua and Alexandra, always looked to Wyckoff as their father, and they joined their mother at Arlington Cemetery yesterday, walking alongside her, to say goodbye.
"Because he was larger than life, he became a part of everyone," Erika Wyckoff said. "He saved the lives of [h]is men, and in a way, saved mine as well."
Wyckoff was a member of the 1st Battalion,
508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne
Division, based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was the 52nd service
member killed in Afghanistan to be buried at Arlington Cemetery.
Army Sergeant Charles E. Wyckoff, 28, Chula Vista;
Killed by gunfire on Afghanistan patrol
By John L. Mitchell
Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times
June 17, 2007
One of Alina Perez's earliest memories of her younger brother is of him on a beach in Coronado, Calif., running from a shadow cast by an airplane flying overhead and screaming: "Mom, help me! Help me!"
That frightened 5-year-old grew up to become a soldier parachuting into combat out of helicopters — a paradox that Perez has struggled to come to grips with since her brother's death June 6 in Afghanistan.
Army Sergeant Charles E. Wyckoff, 28, of Chula Vista, California, was killed when his unit was attacked with small-arms fire while on patrol in Helmand province, southwest of Kabul. Days earlier, he was among a group of soldiers who narrowly escaped death when they evacuated a helicopter moments before it was brought down by a rocket-propelled grenade.
Wyckoff, who joined the Army in June 2004, was an infantryman with the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.
"He loved parachuting," his sister said. "There was something about being airborne, an adrenalin thing. He loved it. He would have his cellphone camera on while he was jumping. He was a crazy kid — nothing but courage in everything he did."
In Afghanistan on his first combat deployment, Wyckoff found ways to ease the anxieties of his family back home. He tried to downplay the hardships in his letters, phone calls and videos.
"His fun-loving nature was always there," his sister said, recalling one video that showed mountain ranges, some difficult living conditions and Afghan children learning to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
In the video's closing moments, he wrote a message of love to his wife, Erika, on a rock. And to his family, he spelled "I love you" with flowers.
Two weeks before his death, he had an ominous message for his mother, Sylvia: "We're going to the war zone," he told her. He was scared, and his words unhinged her. "Mom, please don't make yourself sick over this," she recalled him saying. "I want you healthy when I come back home." It was a conversation she can't shake. "This has been outrageously painful," she said of the son she calls her "hero."
As a teenager, Wyckoff was a medal-winning sprinter at Chula Vista High School, inspired by the rugged determination of the late long-distance runner Steve Prefontaine.
After graduating in 1996, Wyckoff attended San Francisco State. He transferred to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz., graduating in 2002 with a bachelor's degree in aeronautical science. He was the first in his family to earn a college degree.
"We were so proud of him," his sister said of the boy who never lost his passion for planes. "My mom would take him to air shows. He was always in awe."
After college, Wyckoff scrambled to pay student loans. He took a test to become a Border Patrol agent but didn't receive notification that he had passed until after he had enlisted in the Army. "It was destined for him to be a soldier," his sister said.
Wyckoff was buried Friday at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
A memorial service was being planned at Victory Outreach Church in San Diego.
In addition to his wife, mother and sister, he is survived by his children, Alexandra and Joshua; and his father, Eddie.
Posted: 15 June 2007 Updated: 17 June 2007 Updated: 5 August 2007 Updated: 27 August 2007
Photos Courtesy of Holly, August 2007