Cannon captain killed in Iraq

Staff and wire reports

A Cannon Air Force Base captain was among four military personnel killed in a helicopter crash Sunday in Iraq, Cannon officials announced in a news release Tuesday.

Capt. Kermit O. Evans, 31, was a U.S. Air Force Civil Engineer Explosive Ordnance flight commander assigned to Cannon and deployed to the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing at Balad Air Base, Iraq, officials said.

He was assigned as an operations officer for the Detachment 5 weapons inspection flight at Camp Victory, Baghdad.

Evans was killed when the U.S. Marine Corps CH-46 helicopter he was riding in made an emergency water landing near the shore of Lake Qadisiyah in western Al Anbar Province, the release said.

“I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Capt. Kermit Evans and share with them that the men and women of the 27th Civil Engineer Squadron extend their deepest sympathies and support to Capt. Evans’ family,” said Lt. Col. Stephen Wood, 27th Civil Engineer Squadron commander. “His untimely death in the service of his country has affected us all. He was an outstanding leader and distinguished officer. His loss is felt by the entire unit and their families.”

On Monday the military reported three servicemen missing in the crash and one Marine dead. By Monday afternoon the bodies had been recovered and all 16 personnel aboard the chopper were accounted for, according to the American Forces Press Service. There were 12 survivors.

It was the second military aircraft with a connection to Cannon to go down in a week in Anbar, a stronghold of Sunni insurgents.

Maj. Troy L. Gilbert, 34, whose wife is a Clovis native, was flying an F-16 jet assigned to Cannon when he crashed Nov. 27. Gilbert was also deployed to the 332nd Expeditionary Wing at Balad Air Force Base in Iraq.

The military confirmed his death on Sunday.

Margaret Evans of Hollandale, Miss., told The Associated Press that she and her husband were notified Monday in a call from their son’s wife, Pernetha Cunningham Evans.

Margaret Evans said the loss of their son has been hard on her family, but “I’ve talked to the good Lord and I’m handling it — so is my husband.”

She said Evans was serving his second tour in Iraq. She said he enlisted in the Air Force in August 2001 and was promoted to captain in November 2005.

“He had received orders about three weeks ago that he was going back to Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis and they were so excited,” she said.

Evans was expected to return to Cannon in January and be redeployed in February, said Cannon spokesman Sgt. Brandon Seals.

She said Pernetha Evans and the couple’s 13-month-old son, Kermit Jr., lived in Las Vegas, where Pernetha Evans worked in a lab.

Kermit Evans was born in Hollandale, Miss., and graduated from Simmons High School, his mother said. She said as a teenager, he “was always talking about being a pilot.”

Evans was a graduate of Mississippi State University family members said.

Pernetha Evans, contacted Tuesday at home in Las Vegas, said no decision had been made on funeral services but her husband may be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

“We really don’t know about that right now,” she said. “We will know more later.”

Margaret Evans said some sort of service would likely be held in Hollandale.

Kermit’s brother also is serving in the Air Force, said Margaret Evans.

A memorial fund has been set up through the Cannon Federal Credit Union.

The Associated Press contributed to this report