Army Capt. Marcus R. Alford
Died February 21, 2010 serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom
28, of Knoxville, Tenn.; assigned to the 1st Squadron, 230th Cavalry Regiment, Tennessee National Guard, Louisville, Tenn.; died Feb. 21 in Qayyarah, Iraq, of wounds sustained when his OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter had a hard landing. Also killed was Chief Warrant Officer 2 Billie Jean Grinder.
(The following was taken from www.wvec.com of Mar. 8, 2010) Marcus Alford always wanted to fly helicopters and proudly wore his Junior ROTC uniform every Thursday, his chest covered with all the decorations he'd earned as battalion commander.
Friends and family remembered the military pilot as someone who could raise their spirits with a smile.
"He could be a handful, and sometimes you'd have to scold him — but you'd be covering your face to keep from laughing," said Missy Ballenger, who taught Alford in ninth grade.
The 28-year-old from Knoxville, Tenn., also had a voice that could be heard echoing through South-Doyle High School's hallways. He was well-known for his rendition of "Lean on Me" during the school talent show.
"He sang pretty much every chance he got," said friend D.J. Meltabarger.
Alford and another soldier died Feb. 21 in Qayyarah, Iraq, when the helicopter they were in made a hard landing, the military said. He graduated from Carson-Newman College and was assigned to Louisville, Tenn.
"All he ever wanted to do was be a soldier and a pilot," said Derick Bolin, who was Alford's roommate in college. "He was doing what he loved to do."
Alford even landed a helicopter on the high school's lawn for a visit to offer advice to younger cadets.
He is survived by his parents, two children and a host of other relatives.