Oswego residents are mourning the loss of 23-year-old Army Specialist Kyle Rookey who died while serving in Afghanistan this past weekend. The husband and father was serving his first deployment when he died in a non-combat related incident Sunday. Our Candace Hopkins spoke with his family who says he was fulfilling a life-long dream.
OSWEGO, N.Y. -- From the time he was a small boy, Oswego native Army Specialist Kyle Rookey knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life.
"When Kyle was four or five years old, he would pick up toy, and even a pencil as he got older and he would fly it around the house, make the sound effects and everything," said Kyle's mother, Carol Sue Akers.
His early love of flying was the main reason Rookey joined the Army following high school. It eventually led to his job flying unmanned drone aircraft.
"Pretty much walked in and the recruiter said pick a job and he said I want to fly, I want to do that and we were pleased that way, that he got that choice," said Akers.
That choice led to a career his family said he loved, but long before his Army days, they say Rookey was simply their kind-hearted boy.
"He always put himself last, put other people before himself. If he knew someone was upset about something or had a problem, most of the time they would come to him, just ‘cause they know what type of person he is," said Kyle's father, George Rookey.
At Oswego High School, Rookey played trumpet in the marching band and ran track. And not long after beginning his Army career, he married his wife, Victoria, and welcomed a daughter named Flora. She's now eleven months old.
"The minute she was born, she was the light of his life, yes she was. He loved being a dad, it was hard to be away from her," said Akers.
Now the Rookey family says it will be a long road ahead, without this loving father, husband, brother and son.
In addition to his parents, wife and daughter, Specialist Rookey leaves behind a brother and two sisters.
The Department of Defense has not released any additional information about his death.
Family members say the funeral arrangements are still being planned, but they do plan to hold the services in Oswego.