Michael A. Hook
Specialist, United States Army
Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 1039-07
August 23, 2007
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the
death of 14 soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They
died August 22, 2007, in Multaka, Iraq, of injuries suffered when their
Group Burial Funeral Services: Friday, 24 October 2008: Arlington National Cemetery
RICKEY L BELL, Specialist, USA POST CHAPEL 11:00
JEREMY P BOUFFARD, Corporal, USA POST CHAPEL 11:00
PHILLIP BRODNICK, Corporal, USA POST CHAPEL 11:00
DEREK A DOBOGAI, Captain, USA POST CHAPEL 11:00
PAUL J FLYNN, Chief Warrant Officer 2, USA POST CHAPEL 11:00
JOSHUA C HARMON, Corporal, USA POST CHAPEL 11:00
MICHAEL A HOOK, Specialist, USA POST CHAPEL 11:00
NATHAN A HUBBARD, Corporal, USA POST CHAPEL 11:00
GARRETT I MCLEAD, Sergeant, USA POST CHAPEL 11:00
JASON L PATON, Staff Sergeant, USA POST CHAPEL 11:00
JESSY G POLLARD, Corporal, USA POST CHAPEL 11:00
TYLER R SEIDEMAN, Specialist, USA POST CHAPEL 11:00
MATTHEW L TALLMAN, Sergeant, USA POST CHAPEL 11:00
CORRY TYLER, Captain, USA POST CHAPEL 11:00
Honoring Fallen 14 With 'Quiet Strength'
By Mark Berman
Courtesy of The Washington Post
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Four Black Hawk helicopters skimmed overhead against the backdrop of a gray, cloudy sky. Below, more than 150 people brought together by tragedy and united in grief gathered yesterday to pay tribute to 14 soldiers honored at Arlington National Cemetery.
The soldiers were killed August 22, 2007, in a helicopter crash in Multaka, Iraq. Each had been buried separately. But 14 months after the accident, which was caused by mechanical failure, family and friends bundled together on a chilly October morning for a group tribute.
The mourners followed a horse-drawn caisson bearing a single flag-cloaked silver coffin up Bradley Drive. The coffin was carried to Section 60 of the cemetery and placed amid a bevy of red, white and blue flowers.
As part of the service, folded flags were given to parents and siblings, widows and a best friend. Each flag was touched for a moment to the coffin before being handed to the loved ones of the fallen soldiers.
The soldiers were between the ages of 20 and 30 years old. They hailed from 11 states, spanning from California to Massachusetts.
Captain Corry P. Tyler, 29, of Woodbine, Georgia, graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1999 and had deployed to Iraq in 2003 and 2006. Chief Warrant Officer 2 Paul J. Flynn, 28, of Whitsett, North Carolina, was a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilot with a decade of service.
The eldest soldier, Sergeant Matthew L. Tallman, 30, of Groveland, California, was a tall, easygoing man and a devoted father, family members told the Los Angeles Times.
The youngest soldiers were Corporal Joshua S. Harmon, of Mentor, Ohio, and Specialist Tyler R. Seideman, of Lincoln, Arkansas, both 20. Harmon, a medic, had married his wife, Kristin, 84 days before his death, she told the News-Herald in Ohio. Seideman, who loved to joke, was a generous person who would "give you the shirt off his back if you needed it," said his best friend, Jeremy Bolivear, at a memorial service honoring the soldier, according to the Morning News in Arkansas.
Specialist Rickey L. Bell, 21, of Caruthersville, Missouri, joined the military in 2005 after graduating from high school.
Tyler, Flynn, Tallman and Bell were assigned to the 4th Squadron, 6th U.S. Air Cavalry Regiment based at Fort Lewis, Washington.
Captain Derek A. Dobogai, 26, of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, was selfless, kind and too modest to boast about his accomplishments, his family said in a statement last year. "Therefore, we will honor him with quiet strength," relatives said.
Staff Sergeant Jason L. Paton, 25, of Poway, California, was to be married November 18, 2007, family members told the Los Angeles Times. He had deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq before, and his second deployment to Iraq was scheduled to end three weeks after the helicopter crash.
Sergeant Garrett I. McLead, 23, of Rockport, Texas, liked surfing, skateboarding and playing soccer. He enlisted shortly after his birthday in May 2002 because of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, according to the Rockport Pilot.
Corporal Jeremy P. Bouffard, 21, of Middlefield, Massachusetts, was a jokester and a loyal, dedicated man who loved his wife Amanda, son Caleb and the Boston Red Sox. Nearly 1,000 mourners attended his funeral last year, according to the Boston Globe.
Corporal Phillip J. Brodnick, 25, of New Lenox, Illinois, was "the life of the party," a friend wrote on the guest book of a Web site dedicated to his memory.
Corporal Nathan C. Hubbard, 21, of Clovis, California, was one of three brothers serving in Iraq. Marine Lance Corporal Jared Hubbard was killed in 2004, so Nathan and Jason Hubbard enlisted to honor their brother's sacrifice. Jason Hubbard was in the same platoon as Nathan and in a helicopter ordered to secure the crash site, according to CNN.
Specialist Michael A. Hook, 25, of Altoona, Pennsylvania, was excited to come home because his fiancee, Susan Fetterman, was pregnant, according to the Altoona Mirror. Mere weeks after the crash, she gave birth to their son, Mason.
Corporal Jessy G. Pollard, 22, of Springfield, Missouri, embraced and believed in what he was doing and would tell family members about jumping out of planes at night, they told the Associated Press.
Dobogai, Paton, McLead, Bouffard, Brodnick, Harmon, Hubbard, Hook, Pollard and Seideman were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division based at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
Yesterday's burial brought to 447 the number
of Iraq war casualties buried, memorialized or inurned at Arlington National
MaryAnn Hook made sure her son understood the risk before he entered the Army.
''Mom, I know. I'm not afraid to die,'' Michael Hook told his mother. ''I've never been surer of anything in my life. This is my calling.''
The military brought him renewed happiness. He thrived in boot camp, which soon was followed by a deployment to Iraq. He often contacted his mom about exciting accomplishments, although he spared her the stories of his violent encounters.
He made specialist, and although his mother obviously worried, it was clearly his calling.
Hook did share a little with his mom about the increasing violence in a conversation Sunday, August 19, 2007.
''I told him, 'Honey, please be careful and watch yourself,''' MaryAnn Hook says. ''He goes, 'Mom, I will, I will.' And the last thing he said to me was, 'Mom, I love you.' And I said, 'I love you too, honey.'''
It was their last conversation.
Hook, 25, was aboard a helicopter that crashed three days later in Multaka, Iraq. He was among 14 soldiers who died.
A burial at Calvary Cemetery in Altoona followed, but the unexpected discovery of additional remains will bring families to Arlington National Cemetery Friday for a group burial.
''This is finalization,'' MaryAnn Hook said. ''They all died together. They were all brought home together, and they will all be buried together.''
MaryAnn Hook learned Wednesday that all of the families will meet today with President Bush at the White House.
Later, she and Hook's father, Larry Hook of Atlantic City, New Jersey, each will receive a Purple Heart. Hook will receive the military honor posthumously for ignoring his own injury to aid a wounded soldier after their vehicle struck a roadside bomb.
Mason Hook also will receive the medal. Mason was born in September 2007, when his father would have returned home and planned to marry Mason's mom, Suzie Fetterman.
"Mason will get his daddy's Purple Heart to show him what his dad died for,'' MaryAnn Hook says. She also plans to give Mason, 1, the flag presented at Arlington.
The ceremony Friday follows an emotional year of pride and sadness. MaryAnn Hook said on good days, she doesn't think about what happened. She drives a van to transport preschoolers each day, but the image of her son is always near, and one thought often leads to another.
''He had a personality as big as this universe,'' MaryAnn says.
''Beer and hot wings were his thing,'' his sister Marcia Weatherwalk says. ''We think about how Michael would handle situations. He wouldn't want us crying. Michael was a happy person. He was Mr. Socialization.''
It was after a night on the town that Hook told his mom he wanted to join the Army. It had been several years since his 2001 graduation from Altoona Area High School, where he played football. Michael Hook had said there was nothing but trouble for him in Altoona.
He told his mom to wake him early so he could join the Army.
''No you're not, this is the beer talking,'' MaryAnn Hook says. Michael insisted he was serious.
She woke him the next day, and he left for the Army recruiter's office.
''I leave in two weeks,'' Michael announced upon his return home. She says she always felt the military personality in him, but was obviously concerned about a likely deployment to Iraq.
In his own way, he shared that concern with his mother shortly before leaving.
MaryAnn noticed her son was upset and approached him in their home.
''Mom, I want you to forgive me if I have to shoot somebody,'' Michael said.
''Michael, you're at war,'' MaryAnn replied. ''You're not going to have a choice, and God knows you're at war. So for you to stay alive, you're going to have to shoot somebody. That's between you and God.''
Once in Iraq, Michael was very positive about military life. In August 2007, his return the following month seemed certain.
Then came the phone call from Weatherwalk, who was just told of Michael's death by their father. MaryAnn was alone at home when she answered a phone.
''I just didn't believe her,'' MaryAnn Hook said.
The military arrived at her home late that night.
''It was like a nightmare,'' she says.
The bad dream of the recovery that followed disrupted a quiet day months later, when an unusual envelope arrived while MaryAnn was home alone. It was Michael's autopsy report. She didn't read any further. Weatherwalk read the report and learned that Michael Hook died a ''horrific death.''
Then came the call about the discovery of additional remains.
The chatter of preschoolers filled the background while MaryAnn Hook spoke Wednesday of her changing plans. It all seemed out of control: Leaving that night for Washington, D.C. At the White House in the morning. Receiving the Purple Heart tonight. Arlington National Cemetery Friday. Receiving the flag that represents the sacrifice of her son's life for his country. Giving the flag to 1-year-old Mason.
The Army's motto is ''You made them strong. We'll make them Army strong.''
MaryAnn Hook says, ''And that's what they've
done to me. They made me strong.''
The family of Army Specialist Michael Hook returned Friday from Arlington National Cemetery grateful for the respect paid to the Altoona native and for closure.
MaryAnn Hook spoke Friday night of waiting in a chapel earlier at Arlington and hearing the "terrible" sound of marching as the remains of her son and his comrades neared.
Hook, 25, was among 14 soldiers killed August 22, 2007, in a helicopter crash in Iraq. He was buried at Calvary Cemetery in Altoona a short time later, but additional crew remains were discovered.
"It was breathtaking," Michael Hook's sister Marcia Weatherwalk said of the group burial. "It was just incredible, but I'm glad it's over."
On Thursday night, the family received the Purple Heart awarded to Hook for a previous incident in which he aided a soldier while injured himself.
The trip included a visit Thursday to the Oval Office with the crew members' families. At a ceremony to honor the father he never met, 1-year-old Mason Hook brought tears to the eyes of the President of the United States.
Bush met separately in front of his desk with each family. Mason and his mother, Suzie Fetterman, approached Bush together.
"He was fine until our family walked in because Mason was the only child," Weatherwalk said. "We walked in and he saw Mason and he just broke down."
Mason and his mother were followed by MaryAnn Hook and Weatherwalk.
"You want to say so many harmful things to him. You want to ask so many questions, but when you see him in real life, everything fills up and you don't say anything," said Weatherwalk, noting Bush seemed very genuine.
Speaking from her home late Friday, MaryAnn Hook was glad for a chance to move forward.
"It's now completely over," she said. "Now we can try to go on with our lives, but he'll never be forgotten."
Posted: 25 October 2008