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FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2007
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Apache pilot who lived in Alabama killed in Iraq

HEMET, Calif. (AP) — Army pilot Keith Yoakum died doing what he loved to do — fly aircraft.

“He was one of those kids who all he wanted to do was fly. It was his passion. He lived to fly,” said Lloyd Cliff of Hemet-Ryan Aviation, where Yoakum was restoring a 1946 Fairchild single-engine military trainer.

Yoakum, a 41-year-old Army chief warrant officer, was killed Feb. 2 in Taji, Iraq, when the Apache helicopter he was in was forced down.

“He was doing exactly what he wanted to do. He will be missed,” Cliff said..

Yoakum moved to Alabama with his wife, Kelly, and their two children, a few years ago. His two brothers were finishing a landing strip there, where Yoakum planned to fly the Fairchild plane when he returned from the war.

Cliff said Hemet-Ryan Aviation considered Yoakum “one of the Family,” and the company always kept track of him, even while he was in Iraq.

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