Saturday, August 13, 2011
Family members leaning on one another for support
Vickers and his family pose for a photo last Christmas. Clockwise from left, Vickers, Noah Kala‘i Vickers, Nani Vickers, Malie Vickers, dog Honey Girl and Lisa Makahea Flores.
Maui native Kraig Vickers, a Navy explosive ordnance disposal specialist who died in combat, shows off his fun side while holding his children, Noah Kala‘i, now 7, and Malie, now 4, in bags.
Robert Vickers Sr. stands next to a portrait of his late son, Kraig Vickers, at the Vickers family home in Kokomo on Monday. Kraig Vickers, 36, of Virginia Beach, Va., was among 30 Americans who died after a U.S. military helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan.
Vickers Sr. and Vickers pose with lobsters they caught while diving in waters off Stable Road in Spreckelsville recently.
Vickers, 36, of Virginia Beach, Va., and a 1992 Maui High School graduate, was among 30 Americans who died after a U.S. military helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. He was a Navy explosive ordnance disposal specialist attached to a Navy SEAL team unit.
Family members leaning on one another for support
August 9, 2011
A photograph of Kraig Vickers in his Navy uniform hung on a wall beneath a cross alongside photos of other family members in his childhood home.
Asked if his son's photo was always under the cross, his father, Robert Vickers Sr., chuckled, before going to answer the phone, which has been constantly ringing of late.
The person on the other end of the line could have been a relative or friend offering condolences, someone planning his son's funeral, or a member of the news media.
On Monday afternoon, members of the Vickers family continued to see a constant stream of visitors to their Kokomo home, as they coped with the loss of 36-year-old Kraig Vickers, who was one of 30 American service members killed when a military helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. The 1992 Maui High School graduate was a Navy explosive ordnance disposal specialist attached to a Navy SEAL unit.
"It doesn't feel real," said the serviceman's sister-in-law Lei Vickers, who teared up, off and on, as she sat with the family at the Vickers' dinning room table, reminiscing about the loved one they'd lost.
Her husband, Mark, an older brother, and Vance, a younger brother, were in Delaware with their sibling's widowed and pregnant wife, Nani.
They were there to receive Kraig Vickers' remains at Dover Air Force Base, possibly today. The two brothers went to be with Nani Vickers in Virginia Beach, Va., after learning Saturday about their brother's death. They all flew to Delaware on Monday.
"They have been helping (Nani) a lot," said Vance Vickers' wife, Liana, who gave birth just three weeks ago to a boy, Mason.
She said it was Nani Vickers' wish that her husband's brothers be with her in this time of grief.
Liana Vickers said her husband, a transportation security officer for TSA, thanked those who have prayed for them. She asked that people continue to pray, as that has helped the brothers and Nani Vickers get through the ordeal.
The brothers' wives on Maui were giving support to the family by greeting those who came to the Kokomo home.
Even as the family dealt with the sudden tragic death, Robert Vickers Sr. said they were doing "good."
"The Lord's grace is good to us," said the father, who is a devout Christian and a minister.
"I know Kraig's commitment to the Lord is the number one priority," he said later in the interview.
Asked about his son's dangerous career choice, Vickers said, "He was energetic, he was very adventurous. Those were the things he wanted to do, so we supported him."
The father, who recently retired as a civilian traffic reconstructionist with the Maui Police Department, added that he spoke to his son about the "consequences" of his military service, which he said his son understood.
Kraig Vickers was scheduled to be stationed at Pearl Harbor in May, his father said, adding that he was looking forward to diving with his son.
After graduating from high school, where he was a popular football and wrestling standout, Kraig Vickers attended Evangel College in Missouri on a football scholarship. But during his freshman year, he decided college wasn't for him and returned home, his father said.
He worked in jobs such as hotel security and then asked his father to teach him how to dive; the son remembered how his father learned to scuba dive while in the Air Force.
Kraig Vickers joined the Navy in 1996. He wanted to be a Navy SEAL, his father said, but instead became an explosive ordnance disposal specialist.
While stationed at Pearl Harbor, the elder Vickers said his son met his future wife, the then Nani Flores, online.
Flores was a former University of Hawaii Wahine basketball star.
The elder Vickers said his son called him up and said, ''I get this girl I like you meet.''
He told him that she would be the one he would marry.
"Kraig, how many times you told me that," the elder Vickers recalls telling his son.
" 'I know this is the one. She sounds like you and mom,' " his son replied.
Robert Vickers Sr. said the future Mrs. Kraig Vickers wanted his son to go to Bible study and be a good Christian, just like his parents.
The elder Vickers and his wife, Mary, went to Oahu to meet the former collegiate basketball star, who is 6 feet 2 inches tall. Kraig Vickers, the tallest in the family, was 6 feet 1 inch.
The elder Vickers said he laughed when he saw that Nani was taller than his son.
The two were married in 2003 at Nanakuli Ranch on Oahu. There was a luau. That same year, brother Mark Vickers also got married along with sister, Michelle, who is now Michelle Yarborough.
As for how his daughter-in-law is coping with the loss, the elder Vickers said: "She's hanging in there. She knows she had to be strong for the kids."
But the couple's son, Noah Kala'i, 7, keeps asking for his father, the elder Vickers said.
The couple also have a daughter, Malie, who is 4, and a baby on the way. They also are guardians of 18-year-old Lisa Makahea Flores, who just graduated from high school, the Vickers family said.
Robert Vickers Jr., the eldest of the four Vickers boys, was busy Monday scanning and printing photos of his late brother, who could be seen smiling with his family or posing with the fish and lobster that he caught diving.
"For all the years I've known him, I never seen him angry or upset," Robert Vickers Jr. said. "He always listened to what you had to say. And everything he did, he did graciously, and he did it because he wanted to do it, not because he had to."
One of his fondest memories of his late brother was when he received a letter from him while a freshman at Azusa Pacific University near Los Angeles.
In the letter, Kraig Vickers said he knew his older brother was having a hard time financially and so was the family, who was paying the tuition.
Kraig Vickers told his brother that the family was eating saimin and Vienna sausage each night, and they were getting tired of it.
When Robert Vickers Jr. looked in the envelope of the letter, he saw a bunch of loose change, no bills. Kraig Vickers said he had saved some money for his older brother.
Robert Vickers Jr., who is a football coach at Kamehameha Schools Maui and a manager for TSA, said the letter showed his brother's funny - and caring - side.
Mark Vickers, a police sergeant, wanted to share his sentiments about his brother even if he wasn't present for the interview. His wife, Lei, passed on the message.
"Kraig was someone who was loved by everyone. He was the best brother, friend and companion that anyone can ask for.
He always put others first before himself.
He had a spark for life that no one could match.
Kraig will be surely missed but never forgotten."
Vickers fearless in defending country, proclamation reads
WAILUKU - Mayor Alan Arakawa issued a proclamation Thursday honoring the late Kraig Vickers, who would have turned 37 on Thursday but died during combat in Afghanistan.
"Kraig is remembered for his bravery and fearlessness in defending his country," the proclamation read. Vickers was "someone who made everyone around him laugh well and often" and was also "a loyal friend and teammate who would sacrifice all to help someone in need."
Vickers, a 1992 Maui High School graduate and a football and wrestling standout, was a Navy explosive ordnance disposal specialist attached to a Navy SEAL unit. The 36-year-old Virginia Beach, Va., resident died when a CH-47 Chinook military helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan last week.
On Thursday, Vickers' father, Robert Vickers Sr., said he believed that his son's wife, Nani, along with his two other sons, Mark and Vance, were still at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. The remains of the 30 American troops who died in the crash were brought to Dover on Tuesday.
"It's taxing for them. (But) they are getting things done," Robert Vickers Sr. said about his daughter-in-law and sons via phone from his Kokomo home.
He said the family plans to hold funeral services on Maui, although he wasn't sure because the military has not yet released the remains.
Reflecting on what would have been Kraig Vickers' 37th birthday, Robert Vickers Sr. said: "We know where he's at. Knowing Kraig, he says he beat us to the pearly gates.
"Everything he did, he tried to beat us," Robert Vickers Sr. said of his son's competitive spirit.
He said he knew about the proclamation beforehand and was "surprised" when he first heard about it.
All military personnel should be recognized, he said.
"Kraig would say that proclamation should be for all the vets, whether they gave their life, whether they gave the ultimate sacrifice or not; to serve the country, it's an honor. The mayor recognized this, and it is much appreciated."
The proclamation also quotes from the World War I poem "For the Fallen," by Laurence Binyon. It says: "They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them."
Vickers was born Aug. 11, 1974, at Castle Hospital on Oahu. He also attended Evangel College in Missouri to play football. He later enlisted in the U.S. Navy, where he served for 15 years.
He is survived by two children, Noah Kala'i Vickers and Mali'e Vickers. Nani Vickers also is expecting another child. Nani and Kraig Vickers are the legal guardians of Lyssa Makahea Flores as well, family members said.
Virginia surfers honor Vickers
200-plus paddle out to mourn him
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) - Red carnations and fluttering American flags lined the beach, forming a gateway to the surf Tuesday night. Sunflowers, daisies and red roses filled buckets, as more than 200 surfers picked up a flower, clenched it in their teeth and paddled out into the ocean off Sandbridge near one of Kraig Vickers' favorite surfing spots.
Just south of the Little Island Fishing Pier, surfers and stand-up paddlers formed a giant circle, interlocking hands and paddles in a ceremony called a paddle-out.
The event was a rare public display of mourning for victims of the crash in a city home to secretive, close-knit SEAL teams and those who work with them. Organizers asked that no interviews be conducted. Vickers'wife, Nani, on Tuesday was at the Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where the remains were brought home.
Vickers would have turned 37 today. Friends and family describe him as a standout high school football player at Maui High School, devoted to his family and as smart as he was strong. A picture of him displayed Tuesday showed him sitting on the beach, cradling one of his daughters in his massive forearms.
He enjoyed stand-up paddling, and last year he entered a Sandbridge race with his daughter, who wore a water wing, riding with him on the board.more »»
August 8, 2011
Friends, family recall ‘fearless young man’
Maui native Kraig Vickers faced challenges head-on.
It came as no surprise to friends and coaches that Maui native Kraig Vickers had taken on a job that was dangerous and deadly.
The 36-year-old, who was a standout in football and wrestling at Maui High School, was among 30 Americans who died after a U.S. military helicopter was shot down Saturday by insurgents during fighting in eastern Afghanistan. Vickers, a 1992 Maui High School graduate, was a Navy explosive ordnance disposal specialist attached to a Navy SEAL team unit, family said.
"He was a fearless young man. His career doesn't really surprise me," said Lindsay Ball, Vickers' former wrestling coach who also taught at Maui High.
High school classmate and friend Sindylu Medeiros remembers a softer side of Vickers.
"He was very thoughtful, very kind, very respectful," she said.
Medeiros (at that time Sindylu Hamamoto) said sometimes people would mistake Vickers' kindness for weakness, but the latter wasn't the case.
"He was an all around good person," the former cheerleader said.more »»
Maui native among dead; ‘a great loss’
Kraig Vickers, a 1992 graduate of Maui High School and a Maui Interscholastic League defensive football player of the year, was among 30 Americans who died in a U.S. military helicopter shot down during fighting in Afghanistan, his father, Robert Vickers, confirmed by telephone Saturday night.
Kraig Vickers, 36, was a Navy Bomb Disposal Team member, said his father, who could barely speak of his loss.
"He was just one of those kids who was well liked by everyone, other students, the teachers, the administration," Lee said. "He wasn't one of those bullies. In fact, it was the opposite. He was a real leader. If someone was out of line and picking on someone, Kraig would step in and set them straight."
Lee said Vickers was the product of his parents' skill in rearing him and his siblings.
His other brothers are Robert Jr., a coach at Kamehameha Schools Maui high school; Mark, a Maui police officer; and Vance. His sister is Michelle. They all still live on Maui..
Lee said the news of Kraig Vickers' death had spread quickly, with parents of former players and cheerleaders spreading the word, which was announced by one of his Maui friends on Facebook.
"The war's been going on for a while, and it never hit home like this before," Lee said. "People die in wars, yes. And then this happens, and it brings it all home. What a great loss." more »»
Maui native Kraig Vickers in his 1992 Maui High School graduation photo. Friends and family remembered the 36-year-old Sunday as strong and kind, after he died Saturday during a military mission in Afghanistan.
Posted by Doug at 8/13/2011 11:07:00 PM