Schofield loses pair of pilots in Iraq
The aviators were killed when their OH-58D Kiowa helicopter crashed after receiving enemy fire north of Baghdad
Of the 10 U.S. soldiers who died in roadside bombings and a helicopter crash on Memorial Day, two were aviators from Schofield Barracks.
First Lt. Keith N. Heidtman, 24, of Norwich, Conn., and his co-pilot, Chief Warrant Officer Theodore U. Church, 32, of South Point, Ohio, were killed when their OH-58D Kiowa helicopter crashed after receiving enemy fire north of Baghdad.
They were assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade from Schofield Barracks' 25th Infantry Division.
Since September, when 7,000 troops deployed from Schofield Barracks to Iraq, 19 of them have been killed there. Fifty-five soldiers, three sailors, 79 Marines, one Air Force service member and one civilian with Hawaii ties have been killed in the Iraq war.
Despite his opposition to the war in Iraq, a Connecticut man who lost his stepson in a helicopter crash on Memorial Day says he supported the decision 1st Lt. Keith Heidtman made to join the Army.
On Monday, Heidtman, 24, of Norwich, Conn., and his co-pilot, Chief Warrant Officer Theodore Church, 32, of South Point, Ohio, were killed when their OH-58 Kiowa helicopter was shot down in Diyala province north of Baghdad.
Both were assigned to the 25th Infantry Division, based at Schofield Barracks.
Church's family asked the Army to tell the media they wanted to grieve in private. This was Church's second Iraq combat tour.
Heidtman, who was supposed to go home on leave in July, had been in the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade's 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry, for only seven months when he was sent to Iraq in December.
His stepfather, Arthur Robidoux, told the Star-Bulletin yesterday that although he does not support the war in Iraq, "I support what he decided to do."
"We were totally against him joining the military, but it was something he always wanted to do and we supported him," said Robidoux. "I think he had more maturity than I had, and I'm twice his age. He was very mature, very goal-oriented. He was well loved and well respected by a lot of people."
"Human life is a terrible thing to lose, especially the young people with a purpose in life," added Robidoux, who noted that 10 soldiers were killed on Memorial Day. "Unfortunately, they paid the ultimate price."
"My heart goes out to those affected soldiers -- past and present. This isn't going to end any time soon. All these men and women are leaving behind young families."
Eight of those killed were from Task Force Lightning, commanded by Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, who also leads the 25th Division. Six were killed in an insurgent roadside bomb ambush as they raced to rescue the two who died in the helicopter crash, making May, with 113 deaths, the deadliest month of the year for U.S. troops in Iraq.
"The family, while devastated by the loss, is proud of his service to the country," said Robidoux. "His perspective on life was pretty good. He had focus. He had drive. He did what he thought he could do best. He died for it."
Robidoux said his stepson joined the Army after graduating from the University of Connecticut in 2005 with a bachelor's degree in resource economics. After obtaining his wings, Heidtman was assigned to the 25th Division in May 2006.
In high school, Heidtman was an all-conference baseball player, a basketball player and an honor student, his stepfather said.
Fifty-five soldiers, three sailors, 79 Marines, one Air Force service member and one civilian with Hawaii ties have been killed in Iraq since the war started in March 2003.