BRIGHAM CITY — The rumble of military helicopters cut through a still, sunny afternoon in Brigham City, honoring a soldier being laid to rest.
The helicopters flew over the graveside service for Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kirk Takeshi Fuchigami Jr., 25. Fuchigami’s remains was escorted to his final resting place Monday morning, as the young helicopter pilot was buried at the Brigham City Cemetery.
Fuchigami, from Hawaii, died Nov. 20 in the Logar Province of Afghanistan in a helicopter crash. He was providing security for ground troops when the aircraft crashed, according to the Utah National Guard. The 25-year-old flew military helicopters for a living, something that he loved doing.
Fuchigami’s body arrived in Utah on Saturday, with a dignified transfer taking place at the Ogden-Hinckley Airport. His remains were then taken to Myers Mortuary in Brigham City. Monday morning, a private funeral took place before a motorcade made its way to the cemetery. Dozens of flags and many in uniform lined the narrow streets as the hearse made its way to the burial site.
The lost pilot was carried by six servicemen and carefully placed on bars draped across the burial vault. A dog tag was tied to a casket bar.
Seated next to his casket was Fuchigami’s wife, McKenzie Norman Fuchigami, of Corinne, and his parents, Kirk Fuchigami Sr. and Lisa Casey. Dozens of family members surrounded the three, just feet from the silver casket.
“The loss of this warrior, husband, son and friend has left us devastated and breathless,” said Maj. Timothy Clayson, a chaplain in the Utah National Guard. “You are surrounded today by loved ones and friends.”
Clayson reassured the Fuchigami and Norman families that they are not alone, though they may feel they are suffering.
“Chief Warrant Officer Kirk Takeshi Fuchigami has now taken his place in the mansion of the Lord,” Clayson said. “We look forward in faith to a joyful reunion with him, when Jesus is again among his people.”
Royal K. Norman dedicated the gravesite, praying that the area could become a place of remembrance for family and friends.
“Bless this site, that it might be a spot that family can come and visit and see and accomplish those things they need,” Norman said.
Fuchigami was given full military honors, complete with a 21-gun salute and a serviceman playing TAPS on a bugle. Fuchigami’s parents and his wife were each given a folded flag. As the brief service ended, family and friends placed boutonnieres on the casket, each pausing to remember a life lost.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Tyson Roberts, a friend of Fuchigami and fellow soldier in the Utah National Guard, described him as a man who loved his country and wanted to serve it.
Two months ago, the last time they spoke, Fuchigami was passing through Utah and told Roberts how he excited he was to serve, but how much he was going to miss his wife, McKenzie.
“He definitely loved this mission and he loved being an Apache pilot,” Roberts said.
Roberts served as a member of the rifle squad Monday doing the 21-gun salute. He first met Fuchigami at flight school, where the two learned how to fly helicopters. He described his experience Monday as difficult, but solemn.
“It was very humbling I would say,” Roberts said. “It’s not something that you ever wish to be a part of, but I’m very grateful that I was able to do something to honor Kirk and to give back for what he did for us.”