By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer
Margaret Evans said she plans to keep a promise her son made to his wife when they were married. “We have to try to keep that smile on her face. He promised her he would keep her smiling,” she said.
Capt. Kermit O. Evans, 31, a Cannon airman serving in Iraq, was killed around 4:30 a.m. New Mexico time Sunday when a helicopter he was riding in made an emergency landing over water. He was one of four servicemen who died in the accident. There were 12 survivors, the military said.
Evans leaves behind a wife, Pernetha Evans and 13-month old son, Kermit Jr., currently residing in Las Vegas, Nev. where she works in a lab. Pernetha Evans could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.
Margaret Evans of Hollandale, Miss., said Tuesday her son was happy to be serving in Iraq although he was sad to leave his wife and young son. “He said he was so happy there — he really enjoyed it there. He said to me ‘it comes with being in the military mama’”, she said.
“I thank the Lord for the 31 years we had (with him).”
The youngest of two boys, Kermit Evans was described by his mother as an avid sports fan and athlete who was pleasant and giving — someone who liked to help other people.
He also had an inquisitive personality that probably landed him in his military career as an explosives ordnance disposal technician dismantling explosive devices, she said, noting that he always asked questions and examined how things worked.
“He was always taking things loose and putting them back together. He liked to see how things work,” she said laughing.
In the spring, she said she visited her son at Cannon and got to watch an explosives demonstration his flight conducted.
Seeing first-hand the professionalism and skill he and his fellow technicians had in their work put her fears for his safety at ease, she said.
Evans said she last spoke to her son Nov. 24 when he called on her birthday. “I was just like a little happy saint,” she said. “He told me that he was enjoying himself and not to just sit around the house (on my birthday).”
Evans had recently received word from the military he would be assigned to Cannon for the next three to four years, she said.
Happy with the news, she said her son and daughter-in-law were planing to shop for a home in Clovis when he returned in January when he returned from Iraq.
“He loved Cannon,” she said.
Born: April 15, 1975, Hollandale, Miss.
Hometown: Hollandale, Miss.
Died: Sunday, Dec. 3, 2006, in Iraq
Entered Air Force: August 2001
Unit: 27th Fighter Wing, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, flight commander
Specialty: Explosive Ordnance Disposal
Deployed assignment: 732 Expeditionary Mission Support Group, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, Detachment 5 Weapons Inspection Flight, Camp Victory, Baghdad.
Combat service: Iraq, Operation Iraqi Freedom
Nellis Air Force Base, Las Vegas, Nev. — Noon (PST) Thursday.
Hollandale, Miss. — 1 p.m. (CST) Saturday
Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va. — 9 a.m. Tuesday (EST)