RUPERT – At a brick home northwest of Rupert, a flag flies at the end of the driveway, floral bouquets adorn the front porch and inside, John and Anna Workman try to come to terms with the loss of their son in last week’s helicopter crash in Afghanistan.
Army Spc Chris Workman, 33, a member of the 2nd Battalion 25th Aviation Regiment, Task Force Hammerhead, from Camp Schoffield, Hawaii, was killed with three other comrades when their Blackhawk helicopter crashed in Garmsir District of the Hemland Province, in southwest Afghanistan shortly after 9 p.m. last Thursday.
According to early reports by an independent News agency, Stars and Stripes, which often partners with the military, and confirmed by Army personnel on Tuesday, the foursome were on a mission to support a medevac helicopter making an attempt to rescue an Afghan Police who had been wounded in a suicide bomb attack. Also killed in the crash were Chief Warrant Officer 2 Nicholas Johnson, 27, of San Diego, Calif.; Spc Dean Shaffer, 23, of Pekin, Ill.; and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Don Viray, 25, of Waipahu, Hawaii.
“Chris was doing what he loved,” said his father, John Workman, from their home on Tuesday afternoon.
“He had always wanted to join the military; we discouraged it when he was younger, but he was excited to be where he was.”
Workman said they have been in awe of the many people who have extended friendship and support to them. He also extolled the Army for the support they have provided the family.
“We have a liaison from Twin Falls that is keeping us informed of everything, and Chris’ wife has one in Boise as well,” Workman said.
“Even so, we don’t know much yet. They are processing everything back east and it will be awhile before he reaches here. There will be a funeral in Boise, then a service and burial here, but it will probably be a couple weeks.
It was in Boise that Chris Workman began his military career. He joined the Army National Guard at Gowen Field there, but opted to go full-time and joined up with the group from Hawaii, hoping to be able to get overseas duty.
Fellow soldiers, who remembered Workman at a memorial service in Afghanistan Monday, spoke of his unfailing bravery and excellent leadership skills. As choppers could be heard in the distance, fellow soldiers mourned the foursome in a fabric clamshell structure. The group spilled out of the temporary building all the way to the flight line at Kandahar Air Field.
They noted that Workman was working to become an officer and often performed high above his rank. Trained to respond to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear emergencies, Workman had retrained as a door gunner so he could go to Afghanistan.
According to a report in Stars and Stripes, young soldiers looked up to Workman who joined the military later than some.
A friend, Cody Green, said of Workman, “As a specialist, he’s one of the best platoon sergeants I’ve ever had.”
Taliban forces took responsibility for the crash, but a provincial spokesman said there was no indication that enemy activity was involved. Further investigation of the crash is underway, however.
Hailed as a “fallen angel” a soldier who dies in an effort to save others, and a hero, Workman’s father was quick to note that three others died with him and they were not looking for, nor did they expect, notoriety because of what happened. But he noted that they have received an amazing outpouring of love and support from friends, neighbors and the community in the past week.
Workman, a 1997 graduate of Minico High School and 2003 graduate of Idaho State University, worked in an escrow business in Boise following his graduation from college. When the economy fell out of real estate, he went to work as an auto glass repairman, something he had learned from his father at their family business in Rupert. He joined the service to provide a better living for his family and was always looking for ways to better himself.
Sgt. Chris Workman is a hero to all of us and a true example of the best our nation has to offer,” said Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, responding to the news of Workman’s death.
“His passing is a tragedy and is deeply felt by the people of Idaho. The First Lady and I send our thoughts and prayers to his family during this difficult time.”
Along with parents and an older brother, Harry, Workman leaves behind his wife, Camille , a step-son, Cole Hayes, and his beloved dog, Lucky.
Local funeral services will be announced at a later date by Hansen Mortuary of Rupert.