U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Kerry W. Frith was killed in the crash of his MH-47, during anti-terrorism training exercises in the Philippines, on February 22, 2002. The entire crew of eight and two Air Force personnel was lost in the crash.
His body was recovered when the salvage operations retrieved portions of the wreckage at the end of March. He was subsequently identified as one of the five crew members recovered during that phase and returned to the U.S. Two members of the crew had not been found when the salvage operations were ended on April 3, 2002.
Kerry was born at Lemoore Naval Air Station, California, on September 27, 1964. Kerry was the youngest of seven children. He enlisted in the Army in 1987. Prior to his Army enlistment he served in the U.S. Navy. While in the Navy he served on board the USS New Jersey. Kerry was on board the New Jersey, off the coast of Beirut, Lebanon, when the U.S. Marines barracks was bombed in October, 1983.
Kerry was stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, as part of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. He was on a year-long deployment to Korea when the unit was called to action after September 11. The unit is known as the Night Stalkers, due to their special operations missions that are flown mostly at night. The unit motto is “Night Stalkers Don't Quit.” For the unofficial web site for the Night Stalkers association please click here. On that site is a memorial site for all the members of the crew of Chinook 471 (the helicopter that went down).
Note: This page incorrectly states that Kerry was a native of Las Vegas.)
Sergeant Frith was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on April 25, 2002. His survived by his wife and two children, his parents, four brothers, and a sister.
“The funeral for Kerry was on April 25, and it was a cold and rainy day. Kerry's best friend, Sergeant William Mitchell of the 160th SOAR, had returned from Afghanistan after the crash and was there to accept the flag from the honor guard and present it to Kerry's widow. Another flag was presented to my mother by a General Mills. As he presented the flag to my mother, with my father on one side and I on the other, I found myself fixated on the general's name tag and the irony of his name. My mother had weakened in the two month's since the crash (which was on my parents 58th wedding anniversary) to the point she was in a wheelchair at the funeral. The chair, coupled with the rain, made the day especially miserable. As the salute was fired, and the bagpiper played, the rain stopped; just as if a water faucet had been turned off.
When I made the arrangements for my mother with the interment office at Arlington, I told them that we had recently buried my brother there. We were looking at placing her ashes in the columbarium, as that would be near section 64, where Kerry is. The interment office representative, by the name of Loretta, made a point to tell me that my father, and therefore my mother, qualified for ground burial. She indicated that a grave would be available in section 64. That was the most I could have ever dreamed for.
The day of the funeral, I was going over the paperwork with my father and immediately noticed the grave number was 6665, just one more than that of Kerry, 6664. I could not believe that the best outcome to the most terrible series of events could have happened, that Kerry would be forever next to our mother, and someday, our father. I made a special point to call Loretta in the interment office to thank her. She was somewhat taken by surprise, by the sound of her voice. I guess they don't get a lot of calls of appreciation.
One additional note of irony. I noticed when Kerry was buried that his grave is one row back of the grave of Cyrus Vance, the former Secretary of State under President Carter. The irony is that Mr. Vance resigned his post in protest over the ill-fated Iran hostage rescue mission in 1980. The unit that Kerry was a part of, the 160th SOAR (Special Operations Aviation Regiment) aka the Nightstalkers, was formed as a direct result of, and in response to, that failed mission. In addition, Kerry's marker has the 160th unit insignia on it. I have not noticed this on the markers of other members of his unit.
Thank you again for the dedication you have put into your site. I have spent several hours there recently viewing the pages.
James Frith aka Anthony Wilde
Our mother, Martha Jo Frith, was cremated and her remains placed in the grave next to Kerry (based on our father's eligibility) on Kerry's 38th birthday, September 27, 2002. She was not well when the helicopter crashed, taking Kerry, and went downhill rapidly after that. She was only 73.
FRITH, KERRY W
SSG US ARMY
- VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 10/19/1982 – 02/22/2002
- DATE OF BIRTH: 09/27/1964
- DATE OF DEATH: 02/22/2002
- DATE OF INTERMENT: 04/25/2002
- BURIED AT: SECTION 64 SITE 6664
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
FRITH, MARTHA JO
- DATE OF BIRTH: 11/29/1928
- DATE OF DEATH: 07/14/2002
- DATE OF INTERMENT: 09/27/2002
- BURIED AT: SECTION 64 SITE 6665
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
- WIFE OF FRITH, PAUL R CS3 US NAVY
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard