NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
No. 673-07 IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died May 28, 2007, in Muqdadiyah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when their OH-58D Kiowa helicopter crashed after receiving heavy enemy fire during combat operations. They were assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
First Lieuenant Keith N. Heidtman, 24, of Norwich, Connecticut
Chief Warrant Officer Theodore U. Church, 32, of Ohio.
For more information in regard to this release the media can contact the Schofield Barracks public affairs office at(808) 655-8729.
A memorial service for Chief Warrant Officer Theodore U. “Tuc” Church will be at 2 p.m. Sunday at South Point High School in South Point, Ohio. Burial will be June 20, 2007, in Arlington National Cemetery.
CW2 Church, 32, of South Point, died May 28, 2007, in Iraq, when his OH-58D Kiowa helicopter crashed after taking heavy enemy fire. His mother, Betty (Kahn) Church of Proctorville, Ohio, is formerly of the Elgin area.
CW2 Church was serving with the 2nd Squadron, 6th Calvary Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, based at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. He was in his third tour of duty in Iraq and was scheduled to return home in July or August.
In addition to his mother, he is survived by his wife, Mindy, and their two children, Maryn and Dorian; and two brothers, Darrell and Timothy. Other survivors include numerous aunts and uncles in Minnesota, Ohio and Louisiana. He was preceded in death by his father, Darrell Sr.
Schneider-Griffin Funeral Home of Chesapeake, Ohio, is in charge of arrangements.
Condolences may be sent to Betty Church, 683 Township Rd. 172 N., Proctorville, OH 45669
KENOVA, West Virginia — It was as though a silence fell over the Tri-State Airport Thursday afternoon as a Burlington soldier came home for the last time.
The only sound at the airport was that of a steady wind blowing through the American flags that hung solemnly in honor of U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Theodore “Tuc” Church.
The 32-year-old was killed on Memorial Day when the helicopter he was piloting was shot down in Iraq.
A handful of family and friends, including his mother, Betty Church and, brother, Tim Church, met the chartered flight that carried the casket of the fallen soldier.
They waited, clutching each other and blotting tears, as the plane opened its hatch to reveal the flag-draped casket. It was then carried to an awaiting hearse from Schneider Griffin Funeral Home by an honor guard unit based at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
The Chesapeake Police Department and South Point and Burlington Fayette Fire District No. 1 volunteer fire departments led the procession to the funeral home in Chesapeake.
Church’s body has been brought home for a service Sunday afternoon at his alma mater, South Point High School. He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
“I think it has been a big shock,” said Larry Lewis, the great-uncle of Church’s wife, the former Mindi Watters. “It seems like it keeps getting worse. Reality is starting to set in.”
Church had been married 12 years and had a 6-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son.
“He was just a super guy and a super dad,” Lewis said as he waited for the plane to land at the airport Thursday. “He was the ultimate hero. All of them who die over there are heroes.”
Church had been a member of the Army for nearly six years. He was also a Navy veteran, serving four years after graduating high school.
Family friend Tammy Hawthorne was also on hand at the airport.
“This is not the way you want to bring your son home,” said the Proctorville resident wiping tears. “It’s just devastating.”
She said Betty’s Church’s father passed away a few weeks ago, making the loss of her son even more difficult to deal with.
“They were just down-home, good-hearted, loving, patriotic people,” Hawthorne said of the Church family. “They were just average Americans trying to get through life.”
Visitation for Church will be 6-9 p.m. Saturday at Schneider Griffin Funeral Home. The service at SPHS begins at 2 p.m. Sunday.
The body of Theodore Church is back in Lawrence County this evening, returned here from Iraq where he died when his helicopter went down in enemy fire.
Emergency workers and veterans paid tribute to this fallen soldier today.
They made sure Church's body had a proper escort from tri-state airport to the Schneider-Griffin Funeral Home in Chesapeake.
It was a procession for a local hero who returned home in a flag draped coffin just before noon Thursday.
Church was used to being the pilot of an army helicopter, but his final flight came on a chartered aircraft carrying his remains home from Iraq.
Nothing can prepare a family for this moment; a mother and a brother comforting each other. They remember Church as colorful and full of life, but today they must see him a different way– coming home a fallen hero, covered in the nation's colors.
Firefighters, police, soldiers and everyone had an important role today in helping form the procession for the trip from West Virginia to Ohio.
Church's wife and young children were living in Hawaii where he was stationed before going to Iraq.
They'll be in Lawrence County Saturday for visitation at the funeral home in Chesapeake and then the funeral itself will be on Sunday at South Point High School.
Church will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in a ceremony later this month.
Hundreds of people filled the South Point High School gymnasium Sunday to honor a Burlington soldier who was killed in Iraq.
Chief Warrant Officer Theodore U. “Tuc” Church, 32, was remembered fondly by family and friends as a charming guy who was sincere, loyal, thoughtful and dedicated to his family.
Church was killed May 28, 2007, in Muqdadiyah, Iraq, after the OH-58D Kiowa helicopter he was piloting was shot down. He was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment. His co-pilot was also killed during the incident.
Church and his wife of 12 years, Mindi, were high school sweethearts. Both graduated from South Point High School. They had a 6-year-old daughter, Maryn, and a 4-year-old son, Dorian.
Church is also survived by his mother, Betty Church; brothers Darrel Jr. and Timothy Church; and his nieces, Samantha and Anastasia; and nephew, Seth.
During Sunday’s ceremony, several people spoke fondly of Church, who had served six years in the U.S. Army and four years in the U.S. Navy.
John Hess, friend of the late soldier said, “The time I spent with Tuc I will cherish as some of the best times of my life.”
He said the two shared common interests of cars, hunting and paintball.
“I have no bad memories of Tuc…his friendship meant a lot to me,” Hess said.
He quoted Gen. George S. Patton, saying, “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.”
Fellow Chief Warrant Officer Eric Smith, who was a Cavalry scout like Church, said, “He was a man’s man. He wore spurs and he knew how to use them.”
In addition to being a competent aviator and strong soldier, Smith said there was another side to Church; his love and respect for his wife and children were things that people that served with him tried to emulate, Smith said.
Smith wiped tears as he said, “There are few people that I would follow to the ends of the earth, but Tuc was one.”
Church also received recognition from U.S. Congressman Charles Wilson and State Representtive Clyde Evans.
“His spirit will live on through the patriots throughout eternity and will live in the lives of each of us,” Evans said.
Church will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
South Point students visit Church’s grave
It was a moment of solemnity and respect for a local man who died as a hero. And it was the desire of fifth graders from South Point Elementary to pay tribute to him.
The South Point students took a class trip to Washington, D.C. over spring break. They visited the usual sites, such as the Capitol, the White House, the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II Memorial.
But there was a particular visit that was special for the youngsters. That was when they toured the Arlington National Cemetery to place a specially made wreath on the grave of Theodore U. Church or “Tuc” as he was known. Church, from South Point, died this past Memorial Day in Iraq.
“We were taking a trip over spring break and the first thing we did was to go there,” Carol Kelley, a parent-chaperone, explained. “We thought it would be good. I think people may have forgotten he was from our area.”
Before they arrived at the cemetery, the students were told how Tuc died and the importance of his and other soldiers’ sacrifice.
“It is because of him that we have what we have,” Kelley said. “You can go to any church you want, any store you want because of him … the sacrifice he made and his family made.”
Kelley had a special wreath made up of white carnations dipped in blue with gold ribbon to represent South Point’s school colors. That plus a card were placed on the grave.
“Everyone was just silent to begin with,” Kelley said describing the scene when the children were at Church’s grave. “ These kids … it must have been awesome. They were so quiet, not one of them said a word.”
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