NEBO, NC, USA U.S. Army PFC, C BATTERY 1ST BN 320TH FA REGT, FORT CAMPBELL, KENTUCKY 42223 MOSUL, IRAQ 11/15/2003
Army Private First Class Joey D. Whitener was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He was one of seventeen soldiers killed November 15, 2003 when two 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters crashed in Mosul, Iraq. He had just been promoted .
Joey was from Old Fort, North Carolina but his home town was Nebo, N.C. His Army unit was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. He spent his childhood wanting to have a military career. He got that wish and served in one of the best known military units in the world. But when Joey’s son was born his priorities moved to thoughts of being a father and a family man.
Joey’s wife Beth was only seventeen when her husband died in a Black Hawk helicopter crash. Their son Tristan was only nine weeks old. Joey was so happy to be home with his friends and family and his son. Joey had surprised his family by taking leave to be home for Tristan’s birth. His son was his pride and joy. The first time they put him in his arms, he cried.
Beth Whitener still lives in Old Fort, NC near her mother and teaches young Tristan about his father. He knows that his Dad fought and died in Iraq and that he was defending their freedom. Photos of Joey are on nearby walls and Tristan’s Mom encourages Joey’s son.
Beth Whitener, 17, said she was waiting to chat online with her husband Sunday morning when officials from Fort Bragg knocked on the door of her home in Old Fort. She hadn’t heard there was a crash. He was just a great guy who always made made you laugh. His wife remembers him as always acting silly and goofing off. Joey was also known as a kindhearted, respectful young man.
Joey was a member of the Navy JROTC in high school and had hoped the military could help him become a doctor. Because Joey finished high school with a home-school diploma, he could not get into the Navy, so he joined the Army.
At the end of 2002, when Joey finished basic training and returned to McDowell County, where Beth was waiting. She was 16 when he proposed to her, and two weeks later, on December 21, they were married.
They moved to Fort Campbell. Since his March deployment to Iraq, Beth Whitener lived in McDowell County with her mother. Thanks to the internet the young family were able to remain in touch.