President honors Hawaii special ops troop killed in Afghanistan

Published: Aug. 9, 2011 at 9:28 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 9, 2011 at 10:52 PM HST
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By Teri Okita – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The remains of 30 American troops killed in Afghanistan on Saturday are now back in the U.S. Navy bomb disposal specialist, Kraig Vickers, was among those remains returned. His family was at Dover Air Force base in Delaware today for the ceremony.

President Barack Obama arrived at Dover to pay his last respects to the troops killed when enemy forces shot down their Chinook helicopter just west of Kabul. After what the Pentagon calls the "dignified transfer" ceremony, the President met privately with 250 familymembers, including Kraig Vickers' wife, Nani, and his two brothers, Mark and Vance.

"They were not able to go onto the tarmac or anything of that nature," says Vickers' father, Bob. "They were in a secured area, and they were just able to observe the caskets coming off."

The helicopter crash was so devastating that identifying the remains could take days or weeks. The family will begin memorial plans once Vickers' remains can return to Maui - where his wishes were to be buried near the sea. Bob Vickers says, even as a youngster in Haiku, his son was destined to work in the dangerous field of explosives disposal.

"Kraig had a knack for that," his father remembers. "He would get firecrackers and get his army men, and he would blow them up and stuff like that. So, I guess that was part of his make up."

Kraig Vickers' wife had to finally break the news of his death to their seven year old son. Says Bob, "Kala'i asks about Dad, and she finally told him that Jesus needed somebody that can tell jokes - so that was hopefully comforting to him, but Kala'i, when he was asked what he wants, he said, "I want my daddy."

Nani Vickers is seven months pregnant with their third child - another little girl. Kraig Vickers was a deeply faithful, born-again Christian. He would have turned 37 on Thursday.

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