Knoxville Army pilot killed in helicopter crash in Iraq

Knoxville Army pilot killed in helicopter crash in Iraq

Posted: Updated:
Capt. Marcus Ray Alford, Sr. Capt. Marcus Ray Alford, Sr.

6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- A Knoxville Army pilot was one of two killed Sunday in Iraq in an accidental helicopter crash, according to military officials.

The pair was identified as Capt. Marcus Ray Alford, Sr., of Knoxville and Chief Warrant Officer II Billie Jean Grinder, of Gallatin.

Capt. Alford graduated from South-Doyle High School in 2000.

The military said the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior came down near Qayyarah Airfield West about 30 miles south of Mosul in Northern Iraq.

The soldiers were assigned to Troop C, 1/230th Air Cavalry in Louisville, Tennessee.

Those closest to Capt. Alford say he was a wonderful young man, a doting son and a good father to two children. Plus, he was engaged to be married.

Capt. Alford is also described as someone with big dreams who always made people smile.

"I had Marcus when he was a freshman. He was the type of student who bounced off the walls, but you could not help but love him. He was one of the most personable and good hearted men I've worked with," said his former South-Doyle English teacher, Steve Loope.

"At the same time I'd try to get him to sit in his seat, I'd be holding back laughing because he was so funny," Loope said.

Loope also said Capt. Alford absolutely loved what he did for his country. "He considered the people of his country more important than himself and we need to honor that."

A friend of Capt. Alford's who graduated with him, Joshua Baumann, said he was a man to be admired. "He loved fighting for his country. He loved being there for his country. He loved his community. He loved his friends and he loved his family."

Friends say in a few months, Capt. Alford would have gotten out of the Army.

His high school class was planning a 10 year reunion where they said he'll truly be missed.

Capt. Alford's immediate family has gone to Delaware to receive his body. A funeral is expected to be held in Knoxville.

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