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Air Force 1st Lt. Joseph D. Helton Jr.

Died September 8, 2009 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

24, of Monroe Ga.; assigned to the 6th Security Forces Squadron, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.; died Sept. 8 near Baghdad of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device.

Airman killed in Iraq IED attack

Staff report

An Air Force security forces officer died Tuesday near Baghdad when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device.

The victim was 1st Lt. Joseph D. Helton Kr., 24, of Monroe, Ga., the Defense Department announced Wednesday.

Helton was deployed from the 6th Security Forces Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. He was stationed there in 2007 after graduating from the Air Force Academy, reports said.

“We’d like to express our deepest sympathy to family, friends and comrades of Lieutenant Joe Helton for their recent loss,” said Col. Lawrence Martin, commander of MacDill’s 6th Air Mobility Wing. “Joe was an amazing airman and defender who volunteered to lead our best in Iraq. We are deeply saddened by his loss and very proud of his service.”

Air Force Academy graduate cared about family

The Associated Press

If someone had a question, Joseph D. Helton was the man to go to for the answer.

“He just looked like he knew the answers,” said his mother, Jiffy. He was comfortable cooking his signature treat, baklava, and cleaning, but he also had a “quiet, commanding presence,” she said.

Helton, 24, of Monroe, Ga., died Sept. 8 near Baghdad when the vehicle he was in hit a roadside bomb. He admired his family’s service — his parents, grandparents and three uncles all had been in the armed forces — and doodled battleships and fighter jets as a child.

The daydreaming was not in vain: He went to the Air Force Academy, graduating in 2007. He then was assigned to MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. He didn’t want to leave his sisters behind, but his mother insisted he follow his dream.

“He felt like he had to stay around home and take care of the girls and me,” Jiffy Helton said. “He felt like he was the man of the house.”

Helton also wrote a blog while in Iraq, writing that the people he met were “just like us on a basic, human level.”

He is survived by his mother; father, Joseph; and his sisters.

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