Mauian Killed in Afghan Helicopter Incident

August 7, 2011, 3:16 PM HST · Updated August 8, 2:18 PM
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U.S. Soldiers board a CH-47 Chinook helicopter heading for the Shorabak district, Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force; photo by Tech. Sgt. Michele A. Desrochers/Released)

By Sonia Isotov

Kraig Vickers, a Maui High graduate, was among 30 Americans and Afghani military who were killed yesterday when a NATO Chinook helicopter was shot down in eastern Afghanistan.

US Congresswoman Mazie Hirono confirmed the event in a written statement today saying, “I extend my gratitude to Kraig Vickers for his loyal service to our country and express my deepest condolences to the Vickers ohana. This tragic event is a stark reminder of the supreme sacrifices the women and men of the US military make in serving our country.”

Kraig Vickers was a US Navy Bomb Disposal Specialist, and a part of the greater International Security Assistance Force. Kraig served in the military for 15 years and leaves behind an ohana both on Maui and on the mainland. Family and friends describe him as a fearless, intelligent yet easy-going man, who deeply loved his family.

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Top US officials, including President Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, expressed extended their condolences to the families of the 30 members of the American forces lost in the crash.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of the Americans who were lost earlier today in Afghanistan,” President Barack Obama said in a written statement. “Their deaths are a reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices made by the men and women of our military and their families, including all who have served in Afghanistan.”

“I am deeply saddened by the loss of many outstanding Americans in uniform and of their Afghan counterparts earlier today in Afghanistan,” Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta said. “Their courage was exemplary, as was their determination to make this a safer world for their countries and for their fellow citizens.

“We will stay the course to complete that mission, for which they and all who have served and lost their lives in Afghanistan have made the ultimate sacrifice,” he continued. “They and their families are in my thoughts, in my prayers and in my heart.”

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