Friday, August 17, 2007

Jackie McFarlane remembered

Jackie L. McFarlane Jr. delivered his last sermon about two months ago to the congregants of Victory Christian Faith Center, where he was a part-time minister.

"They were life-changing," said Kim Johnson, a member of the church in Fairbanks, Alaska, and a family friend.

Chief Warrant Officer McFarlane, 30, who grew up in Norfolk, was one of five soldiers killed Tuesday when the Chinook helicopter transporting them crashed near Taqqadum air base in Iraq.

The Defense Department said yesterday that the cause of the crash is under investigation. McFarlane was part of the 1st Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment, Task Force 49. He and the others who were killed were pilots and provided tactical aviation support.

"Jackie's priorities were God, his wife, his children and the Army," Johnson said in a phone interview.

McFarlane was born in Fort Riley, Kan., and joined the Army shortly after graduating from Lake Taylor High School in Norfolk, where he took Advanced Placement classes and ran track.

One of his friends from Lake Taylor was Marlon Fuller, who had a sister named Shanaye.

The Fullers' mother, Karen Martin, said that at a certain point, she noticed that McFarlane was spending less time with her son and more with her daughter.

"I would say, 'Does that boy like you?' " Martin said last night.

Her daughter told her no, but Martin knew otherwise.

And when Fuller asked her mother at the age of 16 to go with McFarlane to Colorado, the base where the soldier was first assigned, Martin told her that she was too young to get married.

But her daughter convinced her it was the right thing to do and said she would graduate from high school in Colorado.

They were married in 1994, when McFarlane was 17 and Fuller was 16.

McFarlane saw the military as a way to better himself. He encouraged his wife to continue her education as well.

"He just pushed her and challenged her," Martin said.

Before deploying to Iraq, McFarlane was stationed at Fort Wainwright near Fairbanks. He spent previous tours of duty in Afghanistan, Germany, Fort Bragg, N.C., and Balad air base in Northern Iraq.

McFarlane was a devoted father to his children, Janee, 7, and Joshua, 2. He was also dedicated to serving God, said his mother, Germaine Shields.

One of McFarlane's most memorable sermons was about choosing words carefully and trying not to think negatively about people, said Johnson, the family friend.

In addition to his wife, children and mother, survivors include three sisters, Kiaunte Akern, Jacqualynne McFarlane and Elysha McFarlane.

From the Washington Post

Related Link:
Jackie L. McFarlane Jr. dies 'of injuries suffered when his helicopter crashed'