SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras –
More than 300 members of Joint Task Force-Bravo, Special Marine Air-Ground Task Force and the Honduran air force gathered Sunday evening on the 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment’s “Warrior Ramp” to remember and honor the life and service of U.S. Army Spc. Kyle Gantt.
The 30-year-old UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crew chief from the 1-228th AVN’s Alpha Company was found unresponsive July 20, outside his on-base living quarters and declared deceased at the scene by an authorized medical professional shortly after first responders arrived. The cause of death is currently under investigation.
The ceremony for Gantt, who enlisted in the Army in February of 2012, began with an invocation and comments from his battalion and company commanders as well as Soldiers he served with both in Honduras and during his deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from March-October 2014.
“A tragedy such as this shocks any unit and sends a ripple through the entire battalion and Joint Task Force,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Rich Tucker, 1-228th AVN commander. “The grief felt by many of you illustrates the strong bonds and relationships you built with Kyle – some for years, and others just weeks. Kyle believed in and dedicated his efforts to something much greater than himself. That included providing for his wife and children, defending our great nation, bringing hope to others, and supporting those with whom he stood shoulder to shoulder.”
The common theme that was repeated by all who spoke about Gantt was that of his sense of humor and ability to make everyone smile. One story in particular illustrated this point, bringing smiles to the faces of those attending the event.
Chief Warrant Officer Keenan Sullivan, 1-228th AVN UH-60 pilot, related a story about Gantt and other UH-60 crew chiefs and door gunners acquiring bicycles to ride to and from duty on the far said of the flightline while stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
“Ultimately the enlisted members of [Charlie Company] started their version of a motorcycle club based loosely on the Sons of Anarchy. Their club was called the Pecan Sandies BC. Of said club, Kyle was the president. The club created a club house out of old pallets and scrap particle board. As far as I can recall Gantt even had a gavel for conducting club business.”
U.S. Army Spc. Seth Gransbury, 1-228th AVN UH-60 crew chief and friend of Gantt’s since they attended Advanced Individual Training together in 2012, echoed the other speakers’ comments about Gantt’s character.
“Everyone loved Kyle. He loved and respected everybody, regardless of which branch of service they belonged to, or who they were. He could effortlessly make friends with them. He knew how to bring a smile out of everyone. Kyle was a brother to us all. But most of all he was a loving husband, a father of two, and a son. Kyle will truly be missed, but he will never be forgotten.”
After comments were concluded, a roll call was conducted by U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Steven Howe, Alpha Company senior Noncommissioned Officer, with the Soldiers present sounding off with, “Here, sergeant,” until Gantt’s name was called.
“Specialist Gantt. Specialist Kyle Gantt. Specialist Kyle Jacob Gantt,” called Howe.
When no answer was provided, indicating Gantt’s absence, Howe requested all present stand for military honors, consisting of a 21-gun salute and the playing of Taps. The ceremony concluded with Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines paying their final respects to Gantt.
“Although Kyle left us too soon, we remember his humor, his friendship, and his legacy,” said U.S. Army Chaplain (Captain) Don Fulton, 1-228th AVN chaplain. “As we do this we can take these attributes, add them to our lives, and through this Kyle’s spirit lives.”
A funeral service will be held 10:00 a.m. July 29 at Jamieson and Yannucci Funeral home in Gantt’s hometown of Piqua, Ohio and then move to Forest Hill Cemetery following the service.