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Kea‘au Man Killed In Helicopter Crash in Afghanistan

November 21, 2019, 7:28 AM HST
* Updated November 21, 10:57 AM
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A Big Island man was one of two soldiers killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan Wednesday while supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. This was the first deployment for Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kirk T. Fuchigami Jr., 25, of Kea‘au.

The Department of Defense announced early this morning that Fuchigami was killed when his helicopter crashed while providing security for troops on the ground in Logar Province, Afghanistan. It is a typical thing to provide overwatch scouting to ground troops, military officials say.

The incident is under investigation. Also killed was Chief Warrant Officer 2 David C. Knadle, 33, of Tarrant, Texas. Both Soldiers were deployed to Afghanistan this month.

“First Attack is saddened by the tragic loss of Chief Warrant Officer 2 David C. Knadle and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kirk T. Fuchigami Jr,” said Lt. Col. Adam Camarano, commander, 1-227th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion. “Our heartfelt condolences go to both families and their friends during this difficult time. Chief Warrant Officer 2 Knadel and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Fuchigami will always be remembered as a part of the heroic legacy of the 1st Cavalry Division; forged by the sacrifices of brave Cavalry Troopers who have laid down their lives in defense of freedom.”

Fuchigami’s wife posted on Facebook that he was and is a strong, courageous soldier and loyal husband.

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Both soldiers were assigned to 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Fuchigami entered active duty in May 2017 and following his initial training, he was assigned to 1-227th in October 2018 where he served as an Apache Helicopter pilot.

Fuchigami has been awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Combat Action Badge and Army Aviator Badge.

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US Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) released a statement in regards to Fuchigami’s death:

“Chief Warrant Officer Two Kirk Fuchigami served our country with courage and distinction. His death is a loss that will be felt across the Big Island and the state of Hawai‘i, and as a nation, we will always remember his sacrifice. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife, family, and friends during this very difficult time. We only hope that they find comfort in knowing that his service exceeded all measures of honor. In life, Chief Warrant Officer Two Fuchigami was a guardian of liberty. In rest, may he find the peace we all seek.”

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