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First Name: William

Last Name: Kerwood

Birthplace: IA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Air Force (1947 - present)

Middle Name: Joe

Date of Birth: 12 July 1966

Date of Death: 23 November 2003

Rank: Technical Sergeant

Years Served:
William Joe Kerwood

•  Afghanistan War (Operation Enduring Freedom) (2001 - present)


William Joe "Scooter" Kerwood
Technical Sergeant, U. S. Air Force
Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan

William Joe Kerwood was born on 12 July 1966 in Iowa. He was one of seven children. He got his first taste of flying when his father took him to the state fair in Iowa, where the family lived before moving to Missouri in the early 1970's, and he was hooked.

Military Service

William figured the Air Force was the easiest path to a cockpit, so he enlisted on 1 August 1985, shortly after graduating from high school in Houston, MO. His career had taken him overseas several times and he always lugged along his golf clubs - a second passion. When asked why he did such dangerous things, William said, "That's what I do. It's my job." William had been among the first troops to deploy to Afghanistan after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, and for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

On 23 November 2003, William was a Technical Sergeant assigned to the 20th Special Operations Squadron, Hurlburt Field, FL, which was deployed in Afghanistan. The 20th Special Operations Squadron typically conducts low-level penetration operations into enemy territory, providing air support for ground troops and resupplying Special Forces units.

That day, Kerwood was serving as flight engineer onboard an MH-53 Pave Low helicopter conducting combat operations for 'Operation Mountain Resolve' when it crashed nine miles east of Bagram Air Base. A compressor problem caused one of the two engines on the Pave Low to stall, leaving it with one engine operating and too much weight to carry in the thin mountain air. The pilots unsuccessfully attempted to jettison the auxiliary tanks. Then the other engine stalled while they attempted an emergency landing. With all power lost, the helicopter fell from an altitude of about 200 feet onto an uneven river bank where it rolled over and burst into flames. Somehow, eight people managed to survive.

When his sister, Janet Kaut, heard about the helicopter going down, she knew he would die because he would have done anything he could to save those who were with him. He loved the men that he served with; they were his brothers. His 'brothers' nicknamed him 'Scooter' because he was always a step ahead of everyone else. In 1999, William was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for helping rescue a downed American pilot in the former Yugoslavia. He refused to give up, despite dangerous conditions, and brought the pilot home.

Medal and Awards

Distinguished Flying Cross

Death and Burial

Technical Sergeant William Joe Kerwood was killed in action on 23 November 2003 while on a combat mission. Four other men were also killed in the crash. An honor guard preceded a horse-drawn caisson containing a single flag-draped coffin with the remains of the five servicemen killed in the crash. Because their remains were commingled, the five men were buried in a single coffin with a single headstone. The burial, with full military honors, took place on 21 January 2004 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA. The grave is located in Section 60, Site 1821.

The names of the five men (in the order they are listed on the headstone) are:

Sergeant Major Phillip R. Albert, U.S. Army
Master Sergeant William J. Kerwood, U.S. Air Force
Staff Sergeant Thomas A. Walkup, Jr., U.S. Air Force
Technical Sergeant Howard A. Walters, U.S. Air Force
Major Steven Plumhoff, U.S. Air Force

He is survived by his wife and a 15-year-old daughter who lives in Arkansas.


Honoree ID: 2154   Created by: MHOH




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