6 Years Ago Today (originally posted 2 FEB 2011)

We lost two great cavalrymen.

CW4 Keith Yoakum and CW2 Jason Defrenn were flying in a flight of two on a security and recon mission just north of Camp Taji, Iraq when they were caught in an ADA ambush. Even though their aircraft was seriously damaged they continued to fight until the helicopter came apart due to the damage inflicted upon it by the enemy. This was one aircraft of 10 that was downed by enemy action during a terrible month in Iraq in 2007.

From Keith’s DSC citation:

Awarded posthumously for actions during the Global War on Terror
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Chief Warrant Officer Four Keith Yoakum, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action while serving with Company A, 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Multi-National Corps-Iraq. Chief Warrant Officer Four Yoakum distinguished himself as a Pilot of an AH-64D Longbow Apache Helicopter on 2 February 2007 while engaged in aerial operations in Baghdad, Iraq, during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. During a reconnaissance mission, Chief Warrant Officer Four Yoakum’s aircraft was seriously damaged by heavy enemy machine gun fire, which required him to land immediately. Without regard for his own safety and to protect his comrades, Chief Warrant Officer Four Yoakum chose to remain with his wingman to destroy the enemy. With his main gun inoperable, his only option was to climb in altitude and then dive while firing his Apache’s rockets. Ultimately the aircraft succumbed to its battle damage and crashed. Chief Warrant Officer Four Yoakum’s distinctive accomplishments and dedication to service to his country are in keeping with the finest traditions of the military service, reflecting great credit upon himself, the 1st Cavalry Division, the Multi-National Corps-Iraq, and the United States Army.
Action Date: February 2, 2007
Service: Army
Rank: Chief Warrant Officer 4
Company: Company A
Battalion: 1st Battalion
Regiment: 227th Aviation Cavalry Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade
Division: 1st Cavalry Division

Fiddlers Green
Halfway down the trail to Hell,
In a shady meadow green
Are the Souls of all dead troopers camped,
Near a good old-time canteen.
And this eternal resting place
Is known as Fiddlers’ Green.
Marching past, straight through to Hell
The Infantry are seen.
Accompanied by the Engineers,
Artillery and Marines,
For none but the shades of Cavalrymen
Dismount at Fiddlers’ Green.
Though some go curving down the trail
To seek a warmer scene.
No trooper ever gets to Hell
Ere he’s emptied his canteen.
And so rides back to drink again
With friends at Fiddlers’ Green.
And so when man and horse go down
Beneath a saber keen,
Or in a roaring charge of fierce melee
You stop a bullet clean,
And the hostiles come to get your scalp,
Just empty your canteen,
And put your pistol to your head
And go to Fiddlers’ Green.


14 comments to 6 Years Ago Today (originally posted 2 FEB 2011)

  • Magnus Caseus Formatis

    Thanks for sharing the vid, Outlaw. I guess they were doing their duty, even if it did cost them their lives. Still, it takes a lot of courage to do what they did.

    • No, really they went above and beyond their duty by doing what they did. Their duty would have been to limp that aircraft home and everyone would have said good job and they would have taken the spare aircraft launched and did it again…it is what we all did. What they did was to go beyond what was expected, what was required and that is why we honor and respect them for what they did, knowing full well what might (and eventually did) happen to them they still did it.

      • That’s what amazes civilians… they see descriptions or History Channel docs or even Band of Brothers and wonder why everyone doesn’t get a medal. The duty is so hair raising that above and beyond that is unfathomable — and thus especially worthy of our recognition, admiration, and remembrance.

        RIP Yoakum and Defrenn and a heartfelt thanks to their families.

      • Magnus Caseus Formatis

        Yes, they did go above and beyond. Way beyond. My take on it was that when folks like these men go through stuff like that (and survive), they all say that they were just doing their duty.

  • Kevin Yoakum

    I miss Keith everyday, I know he would be proud to see how well his girls are doing, One is now in the USCG serving in Alaska while his youngest graduated high school with honors last year and is now in College (also in Alaska). Kelly is still surviving, and the rest of us are still getting by. My youngest who just turned five asks about uncle Keith all the time, so I know I am least doing a fair job at keeping his memory alive. I know were missing something special, but I also know he wouldn’t have had it any other way.

    • God bless you and your family Kevin. Thanks for dropping in and thank you for your family’s service to our country.

    • Rufus

      Thank you for letting us know how his family and you are doing. His kids sound like they are very driven and mature. Not surprising based on their father’s demonstrated commitment while in such an impossible situation. May God be with you all. Thanks for helping us all keep “Uncle Keith’s” memory alive!

  • The College Widow

    Thanks for posting this, Outlaw. My sympathy to you, Kevin.

  • 67Cougar

    God Bless Keith and Jason. I can’t believe it’s been 4 years.

  • Thanks for re-posting, Outlaw! Continue to RIP, heroes.

  • Texacalirose

    These men are mythical. I’ll never understand their bravery for as long as I live here on Earth. Someday I might know. When I’m on the other side, I hope to ask them about it. God bless them and keep them in their peace.

  • No greater love hath any man…”.Thanks, Outlaw, “lest we forget.”

  • Thanks for the reminder. RIP heroes and sorry for the loss of your friends Outlaw.

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