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Air Force Senior Airman Omar J. McKnight

Died January 17, 2009 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

22, of Marrero, La.; assigned to the 6th Security Forces Squadron, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.; died Jan 18 as a result of a non-hostile incident in Balad, Iraq.

Was assigned to MacDill AFB

The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — A 22-year-old senior airman assigned to a Florida base has died in what the defense department says was a "non-hostile" incident in Iraq.

Omar J. McKnight of Marrero died Jan. 18, the Department of Defense said in a news release. Details on McKnight’s death were not released Jan. 19.

McKnight was assigned to the 6th Security Forces Squadron of MacDill Air Force Base.

Wanted to follow in family’s military footsteps

The Associated Press

Omar J. McKnight’s father described his son as a quiet, “easygoing kid,” with respectful manners, a good head on his shoulders and an obsession with updating the photos on his MySpace page. Eliot McKnight said he was also the baby of the family, the youngest of three boys.

“He was just a special person, always smiling,” said his mother, Sheryl McKnight. “Anything he could do to help someone, he would.”

McKnight, 22, of Marrero, La., died Jan. 18 from non-combat causes in Balad, Iraq. He was assigned to MacDill Air Force Base and was on his second tour.

As a high school freshman, Omar had dreamed about following in the footsteps of his father, an Army veteran from Operation Desert Storm, and his older brother Trumain, who is now serving with the Air Force’s special operations unit in Iraq.

“His whole life was the military,” Eliot McKnight said. “He did four years in ROTC in high school. It was evident.”

In 2006, three weeks after graduating, Omar joined the Air Force. He attended basic training at Lackland Air Force and he had served as a firefighter at the base in Tampa.

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