Sunday, August 26, 2007

Michael Hook remembered

A 25-year-old Altoona man was among 14 U.S. soldiers who died in northern Iraq Wednesday when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed during a nighttime mission.

Army Spc. Michael A. Hook, who graduated in 2001 from Altoona Area High School, was among those killed, family members said Wednesday.

“He had been in Iraq for almost a year and was due to come home at the end of next month,” said Hook’s father, Larry, who lives north of Atlantic City, N.J. “It would have been the end of his first tour.”

The military said the crash appeared to have been caused by mechanical failure, not hostile fire. The helicopter had just picked up troops after a mission. Four crew members and 10 passengers were aboard.

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Garver said the crash was being investigated.

Hook said his son enlisted in the Army about two years ago after working in Altoona for a roofing contractor.

“He just decided he was going into the Army, and I respected that,” Hook said.

Hook’s grandmother, Winifred Hook of Altoona RD, said her grandson “just seemed to like the military.”

She said a party was held for him last year before he left for Iraq.

“I don’t think he was real interested in going to Iraq ... but I think he was excited about coming home,” Winifred Hook said.

Larry Hook said his son’s unit, the 25th Infantry Division’s combat aviation brigade, was preparing to return and expected to be at their base in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, by Sept. 24. He said his son especially was looking forward to coming home because his fiance, Susan Fetterman, is pregnant.

Altoona Area High School Football Coach Phil Riccio remembered Hook, a defensive lineman and letterman, as a hardworking, straightforward youth who put others ahead of himself.

“He was a young man who gave everything he had,” Riccio said.

The coach also recalled that Hook got injured early in his senior year then worked hard to make a comeback.

“It was his dedication that I remember,” Riccio said.

Larry Hook said his son was determined to better himself through the Army by furthering his education and making a career out of the military.

News of his death, Hook said, has been hard for family members. They are forced to wait for the military to provide more details before funeral arrangements can be made.

“He died doing what he wanted to do,” Larry Hook said. “But it’s been pretty devastating.”

From the Altoona Mirror

Related Link:
Michael A. Hook dies 'of injuries suffered when his helicopter crashed'