Latter-day Saint soldier killed in Afghanistan is memorialized, laid to rest

A Latter-day Saint soldier known for his love of aviation and a commitment to “standing up for his beliefs” died Nov. 20 in a helicopter crash in Logar Province, Afghanistan.

U.S Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kirk Takeshi Fuchigami Jr., 25, of Keaau, Hawaii, died while providing security for troops on the ground. 

The crash is under investigation, according to a U.S. Department of Defense report.

Fuchigami was raised in Hilo, Hawaii, and Henderson, Nevada. While attending Henderson’s Rancho High School, he participated in JROTC and the Aviation Magnet Program, becoming one of the youngest students in school history to acquire a pilot’s license, according to his obituary.

Following graduation, he served a mission to Kobe, Japan, before joining the Army.

He graduated from Warrant Officer Candidate School and later from flight school, where he was selected to fly the AH-64 Apache helicopter.

In March of 2019, he married McKenzie Norman of Corinne, Utah, in the Ogden Utah Temple.

McKenzie Norman Fuchigami, wife of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kirk T. Fuchigami Jr., rests her hand on her husband’s casket during graveside services at the Brigham City Cemetery on Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. Fuchigami and his co-pilot died when their helicopter crashed as they provided security for troops on the ground in Logar Province in eastern Afghanistan.
McKenzie Norman Fuchigami, wife of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kirk T. Fuchigami Jr., rests her hand on her husband’s casket during graveside services at the Brigham City Cemetery on Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. Fuchigami and his co-pilot died when their helicopter crashed as they provided security for troops on the ground in Logar Province in eastern Afghanistan. Credit: Steve Griffin, Deseret News

“Takeshi had many talents — including flying helicopters, shooting, fishing, building things with his hands and receiving his black belt,” his obituary noted. “He was ambitious, driven and determined and placed his priorities and values first. 

“He was always true to his beliefs, but also considerate of others.”

Hundreds attended Fuchigami’s Dec. 9 funeral at the Brigham City Utah West Stake Center and subsequent graveside service at the Brigham City Cemetery, the Deseret News reported.

“The loss of this warrior, son and friend has left us devastated and breathless,” said Utah National Guard Chaplain Timothy C. Clayson during the graveside service.

The chaplain assured Fuchigami’s wife, McKenzie, that she was not alone during a dark moment of pain and grief.

Apache helicopters fly over graveside services for Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kirk T. Fuchigami Jr. at the Brigham City Cemetery on Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. Fuchigami and his co-pilot died when their helicopter crashed as they provided security for troops on the ground in Logar Province in eastern Afghanistan.
Apache helicopters fly over graveside services for Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kirk T. Fuchigami Jr. at the Brigham City Cemetery on Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. Fuchigami and his co-pilot died when their helicopter crashed as they provided security for troops on the ground in Logar Province in eastern Afghanistan. Credit: Steve Griffin, Deseret News

Fuchigami was laid to rest with full military honors that included a 21-gun salute. A fly over of four military helicopters performed the missing man formation in which a solitary aircraft cuts away from the rest.

The soldier is survived by his wife, McKenzie; his parents, Kirk Takeshi Fuchigami and Lisa Marie Casey; and two siblings — Ernest Isami Fuchigami and Hannah Marie Casey.

“His death will not be considered a ‘goodbye’, but a ‘see you soon’,” his obituary read. “His sacrifice will never be forgotten.”