MONROE, GA, USA
1STLT, 6TH SECURITY FORCES SQUADRON, MACDILL AFB, FL
NEAR FOB FALCON, IRAQ 09/08/2009
If someone had a question, Joseph D. Helton was the man to go to for the answer.
He just looked like he knew the answers, said his mother, Jiffy. He was comfortable cooking his signature treat, baklava, and cleaning, but he also had a quiet, commanding presence, she said.
Helton, 24, of Monroe, Ga., died Sept. 8 near Baghdad when the vehicle he was in hit a roadside bomb. He admired his family’s service – his parents, grandparents and three uncles all had been in the armed forces. Joseph doodled battleships and fighter jets as a child.
The daydreaming was not in vain: He went to the Air Force Academy in Colorado, graduating in 1997. He then was assigned to MacDill Air Force Base. He didn’t want to leave his sisters behind, but his mother insisted he follow his dream. He felt like he had to stay around home and take care of the girls and me, Jiffy Helton said. He felt like he was the man of the house.
Helton also wrote a blog while in Iraq, writing that the people he met were just like us on a basic, human level.
Joseph was a 2003 high school honor graduate. He won the Atlanta Journal Constitution Award as the Principal’s top Graduate. Joseph was Soccer Captain for two years on his winning team. He was all league for three straight years. He was a ROTC Commander.
Graduating with a 4.2 GPA, he was awarded over $1 Million in scholarships and opted for the Air Force Academy. He graduated there in 2007 as an Honor Graduate in all three Academy award areas: Leadership, Academics, and Athletics.
Joseph opted for the Air Force Security Forces and was assigned to MacDill AFB, Fl (Tampa). There he volunteered for combat for one year until accepted for assignment as an adviser to the Iraqi Police in Southern Baghdad. He finished that tour and extended for further Security Forces operations elsewhere.
Joseph epitomized the Air Force Professional Officer. Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in all He did. He was to turn 25 this September 30.
He is survived by his mother; father, Joseph; and his sisters.