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Army Chief Warrant Officer 1 Erik C. Kesterson

Died November 15, 2003 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

29, of Independence, Ore.; assigned to the 9th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; killed Nov. 15 when two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters crashed in Mosul, Iraq.

Chief Warrant Officer Erik C. Kesterson had already completed an eight-year tour of duty with the Marines when the Sept. 11 attacks compelled him to sign on with the Army.

“He was very patriotic and believed in this country. He’s a good man,” said his father, Clayton Kesterson.

Kesterson, 29, was killed Nov. 15 when the Black Hawk helicopter he was piloting collided with another helicopter in Iraq.

He grew up mostly in Vernonia, Ore., and was stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky.

M.J. Kesterson said her son inspired confidence.

“This was a bright, ready-to-go young guy,” she said. “I didn’t have a thought this would go badly.”

As a Marine, Kesterson pulled seven men from a burning helicopter that had crashed. He was awarded the Marine Corps Medal of Heroism.

One of his hobbies was building full-size replicas of World War I fighter planes. Five of the planes he built with his father have been cleared to fly by the Federal Aviation Administration.

— Associated Press

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2002   2001

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